Small Biz Bee: From Peer to Manager: 3 Steps to Going From One of the Gang to the Boss

Originally Published in Small Biz Bee by Jessica Druckman | Jan. 26, 2012

“Congratulations. You’ve been promoted.” All of your hard work has paid off. All of those long hours you spent in the office did not go unnoticed, and you’re rising through the ranks. So what’s next? You know that making the transition from employee to manager will take some work.  However, you’re also making the transition from peer to manager, which poses an additional set of challenges that you didn’t anticipate.

Prior to my current position as Vice President of Consero Group LLC, the events services company that I co-founded last year, I had the good fortune to be promoted on several occasions. In each case, I was put in the position of managing individuals who had been colleagues of mine, or had even been more experienced.

In one case in particular, I was asked to manage someone with whom I had started at the company on the same date some months before.  Following each promotion, I was confident that I had the skills to provide direction and lead by example; however, I was not prepared for the emotional and political strains caused by my supervising former peers.

Having been through this situation multiple times, it is clear to me that management status comes at a price.  It is also clear that there are certain strategies and methods that are critical to employ when you find yourself in a new position in charge of people who were once your peers.  Here are a few pointers that may help you as you take a step up the corporate ladder:

 3 Steps to Going From One of the Gang to the Boss

1.     Be confident in your own abilities. When you are promoted from a group of peers, it is easy for others to question the decision or harbor resentment.   The best way to overcome these sentiments and garner respect is to take the reins and lead with conviction.  Your new reports will need this in order for the team as a whole to succeed.  Be confident in your abilities to handle the management duties expected of you.

2.     Clearly communicate your new role and expectations. Don’t be afraid to sit down and talk with your team members. Understand that your new role is not just challenging for you, but for them, too.  Make sure you clearly communicate your new responsibilities and the metrics by which you will be evaluated; setting clear expectations of what is required of you, and what you need from them, is critical from the very beginning.

3.     Draw boundaries and stick to them. While there is nothing wrong with remaining friends with your former peers, by going out for the occasional lunch for example, you will need to set a new, professional tone and create boundaries among your relationships.  Perhaps for the first time, the company’s needs and interests take priority, and you may well encounter some rule-breaking that will require you to discipline or terminate a friend.  If you draw appropriate lines ahead of time, you’ll be much better off when such situations arise.

If you follow these simple steps, moving up the corporate ladder will most certainly be easier.  If at any point the transition becomes overwhelming, always remember that you earned this promotion.  Now, it’s time to lead in the way that you know you can.

About the Author:  Jessica Druckman is a Founder and the Vice President for Program Development of Consero. Ms. Druckman is responsible for conducting market research, writing program agendas, and organizing the faculties for Consero Forums. Through carefully-planned programming, Ms. Druckman ensures that Consero delegates leave each Forum with practical business skills that spur corporate growth.