Congratulations! You have just been promoted to manager in your department or at your company. Or, maybe you have made the decision to start your own company and many of your co-workers have such faith in you that they are joining you in your new venture.
You are about to start one of the biggest challenges of your life. You are moving from co-worker / friend to BOSS!
You remember all those late night phone calls with co-workers, after work drinks or quick conversations during lunch or in the hall about the boss and how each of you could do a better job? They aren’t going to stop. You are just no longer invited to the conversations because the conversation is about YOU.
I have been there and done that and frankly, failed miserably. This is not about what I did right or even wrong but what I would do differently if I had to do this over again.
First, accept the fact that the conversation is happening and move on. Not every decision you will make will be popular and not every decision will be right. Remember you have information that your team members don’t have and that you are not perfect. You cannot stop them from meeting after work, or at lunch. Let it go.
Use what information you already have from those sessions in which you did participate. What did your co-workers really like about the previous boss? Maybe they always appreciated the fact that birthdays and work anniversaries were special occasions. The boss may have treated everyone to something special after the completion of big projects. Lunch or chair massages or gift cards. Go beyond duplicating, expand.
Can you make changes to what wasn’t liked? If so, implement those changes, if not, let them know you understand their concerns; however, changes can’t be made at this time. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room, especially when the elephant has to stay in the room. Focus on what can be changed and make it happen as quickly as possible.
Remember those discussions were not all about work. Take the time to ask about the families, hobbies, concerns of your team. Let them know you still care. It makes a difference.
Find a mentor and hire a coach. A mentor, either internally or externally from the company, can be your sounding board when you have to make difficult decisions or have concerns. A coach can help you set goals and keep you accountable. This is money well spent. Some companies will pay for this coach, if not, look at this as an investment in yourself and spend the money and the time to make it work.
Do not have an open door policy – at least for the first few months. It is easy for former co-workers to forget you are the boss and stop by your office to chat. Let everyone know that you want to hear about their ideas and concerns and when you meet you want to ensure you give them your full attention. Have them block some time on your calendar and when they arrive, be prepared to give them that undivided attention. Meet away from your desk or turn off your computer monitor and notifications so that you are not distracted.
You have inside information on each of your team members. Use the positive to grow that team member and do not let the negative influence you or your decisions. Remember, they have information about you that you don’t want them using to judge your current performance.
It is much harder when one of your team members is your best friend. This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends but be careful to keep your outside interactions non-work related. Have a No Discussing Work policy in place or you might share information that you shouldn’t or start to engage in gossip about other team members or your boss. (especially after a drink or two). Don’t hide the fact from the rest of the team that you were together this weekend. They know and if you try and hide the information, it becomes a bigger issue.
If you want to move ahead in the company for which you currently work, start putting these suggestions into practice. My mother always told me to dress for the job you want. I am adding to that, act like the boss you want to be, even if you are not there yet.
Be prepared to lose a few “friends” in the transition. In the end, they probably were not true friends anyway.
Photo credit: Foter / Public domain
Photo credit: oooh.oooh / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: polandeze / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: thetaxhaven / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: stevendepolo / Foter / CC BY