New Manager: Managing your peers

Companies do not usually like to do it, but they will occasionally promote a new manager from within the same department. This individual must perform the awkward task of managing people who the day before were their co-workers. This is not an ideal situation and is fraught with potential and actual challenges, to their friends and the new manager. 

Former peers

People feel threatened when a peer becomes their boss for many reasons:

  • Some may feel upset, rejected for being passed over for the promotion. These feelings may be legitimate or unjustified
  • Depending on their previous relationship they may feel vulnerable because the new manager knows their secrets and weaknesses
  • They may not feel capable of working for the new manager because they know the new manager’s secrets and weaknesses
  • They may doubt the competency of the new manager to perform the job

New Manager

 There are challenges from the new manager’s perspective:

  • They may have doubts about their competency to manage their former co-workers
  • They may find it difficult to give instructions to their friends
  • They have to establish credibility where people know them and wonder why they got the job
  • Their friends may try to take advantage of them in their new position and seek special favors
  • They have to manage employees who feel passed over for the position
  •  Will the team respond to their leadership or try to sabotage their efforts?

First Steps

Managing can be a tremendously gratifying experience. The monumental role of unifying and utilizing the talents of individuals toward a common goal is not for everyone. Many companies make a mistake of promoting someone to management as a reward for succeeding in another area. Managers must be able to handle duties such as staffing, budgeting, paperwork, training, coaching and leading a team of people with different personalities and skill sets. This often requires a manager to put his people first.

J.C. Penney once said that management is getting things done through other people. The job of a great manager, according to Marcus Buckingham in his book “The one thing you need to know, begins with each employees talents. The challenge is to figure out the best way to transform these talents into performance.”  So the new manager must work with the team as a collective and as individuals to unleash their talents and apply them to the goals of the organization. 

There are many things that must be done to train the neophyte to tackle the role. The new manager should hopefully receive guidance from their superior and the appropriate corporate and on the job training. They should have a job description, list of role and responsibilities, as well as goals and expectations which will be reviewed with the supervisor. Early in their new assignment the new manager must do the following with their direct reports: 

  • Sit down with each member of the team individually and let them know you are excited about being selected as their new manager. They are committed to making the department / team the best it can be which will benefit everyone. The team can only be successful if the team members are engaged and committed to excellence.
  • Ask each member what they would like to achieve their personal and career goals
  • The manager’s previous relationship with them will not get in the way of helping each person become successful
  • The manager is counting on everyone to support the team and the objectives of the company
  • Let people know that you will be their advocate and will represent their interests to upper management
  • Share the company’s vision, mission and the goals for the department, if they exist (create them if they don’t exist)
  • Ensure them that everyone will have goals and objectives to hold them accountable and help grow their skills

It will take time, but eventually, the team will recognize the new manager’s desire to grow into the position and appreciate interest in their development. Direct reports will watch the new manager carefully as they make and admit mistakes. It is important for the manager to take responsibility for the errors and learn from these mistakes. Realistically, not everyone may cooperate positively with the new manager and some people may leave on their own or be recommended for reassignment or termination. This could cause additional problems, but if people are treated, the new manager and the organization can weather the storms. We will discuss discontented employees and new manager mistakes in the next issue.

Copyright © 2010 Orlando Ceaser

2 thoughts on “New Manager: Managing your peers

  1. I am extremely impressed along with your writing talents as well as with the structure to your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it yourself? Anyway stay up the excellent quality writing, it?s rare to see a great blog like this one today..


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