One of the most rewarding aspects of working with people is watching them grow from a new hire into a leadership role. The adjustment to a management or coaching position can be a challenging one, and not just for the person who got promoted. Whether you’re a newly promoted manager or a mentor to an up-and-coming leader, here are some strategies to help create a successful transition.
Be authentically you.
Leaders are promoted because they were good at their role and show promise of being successful at the next level. That means that you don’t have to act a certain way or put your “boss hat” on. Doing so is a surefire way to reduce communication and alienate your coworkers. Nor do you have to try to imitate another leader or the person who had the job before you. Bring your own personality and strengths to your new role.
Stop doing employee stuff.
Learning how to delegate and coach effectively is a common pitfall for new leaders. Many feel uncomfortable asking their team to do anything, especially when they were previously colleagues. While it’s certainly important to lead your team by example, you have already proven that you’re willing to get down and dirty—after all, you had the same job just a little while ago! Your new role is to empower your team to accomplish more than what you can do alone. Even if they’re doing it differently than you would, if the bar is being met then it’s all good.
Level up your leadership skills.
Leading a successful team requires a different set of skills than being a great player. Just because you know the mechanics of the role doesn’t mean you’ll naturally be good at managing others. It’s worth consciously taking time to learn how to give great feedback, set goals, track performance and recognize wins. Your team will notice that you are intentionally cultivating these skills, and not only will they appreciate the effort, it will help to differentiate your new role in their eyes.
What if they’re not happy about my promotion?
There can be many reasons why a coworker wouldn’t be happy for another colleague’s success. They could dislike the employee who got promoted, or conversely, may be worried that the new title will affect their friendship. They could be jealous or disappointed that they weren’t promoted themselves. Regardless of the reason, the following ideas can help:
- Have an honest conversation with them. There’s no sense in letting hurt feelings fester—the negativity can spread to the entire team. Having a conversation to hear concerns can go a long way to clearing the air, making them feel heard, and perhaps addressing the real issue. If they wanted the new job themselves, have the person who made the decision share where (and how) they could improve their performance so they can be ready for greater opportunities in the future.
- You can’t make everyone happy—and unfortunately, this won’t be the only time that as a leader, you rub someone the wrong way. Remember that if they’re really unhappy or angry, it likely has nothing to do with the promotion and says much more about them than it does about you. If hearing them out doesn’t resolve the issue, refer it to another manager and move on. Remember that you’re responsible for an entire team now, not just one person. Let your performance speak for itself and you will earn the respect you deserve.