Supervising Your Peers When You Got the Job, and They Didn’t

Probably some of the most challenging times that any new supervisor experiences happen in the “transition time”.  You are working through the in-between space of time before your peers accept your promotion, and the team functions effectively. Supervising your peers is your new big challenge.

It happened to me, and quite likely it has or will happen to you. So this week, let’s look at ways we could help you navigate that transition successfully.

A Textbook Story – You got the job, and now you are supervising your peers

You finally received that promotion you have worked so hard for and deserved.  Congratulations! On Day One, you face the challenge of managing former co-workers.  And some are still your close friends.

So how can you manage these delicate relationships without compromising your effectiveness as a new leader? Can you even maintain the same kind of friendship you had with the team in the past?

Here are six tips that will help you protect valuable relationships while fostering respect and influence over former peers.

Goodbye Gossip 

Your example, when it comes to gossip, is critical to your new role as a leader. Do not participate in gossip or disparaging conversations about employees or the management team. Nada. Zero.

Unprofessional conversations will undermine your authority when supervising your peers. They will also compromise your ability to be an effective leader and influencer.

It is also expected of you as a superior to take action on any negative information and behavior by employees. Being part of those conversations can place you in a potential conflict of interest. So, stay away!

Put Your Insider Knowledge to Good Use

By having been a part of the team you are now in charge of, you should have valuable insight. You are likely familiar with the weakness and strengths of your former peers. You know where the bones lie.

You are also in an excellent position to nurture aspects of your peers’ under-utilized talents. Put this insider knowledge to use so that it is working toward your company’s success. You know about what they complained. You know what they wished was done differently. Now is your chance to make those changes and create new opportunities.

Utilize your insider’s knowledge to empower the people you now lead. If they complained about being removed from essential decisions, allow them that participation. If they felt under-appreciated, show them how valued they are. Use this to its full potential. The rewards will come quickly.

Keep it Simple

Maintain a sense of humility and grace. Avoid the need to brag or show how your salary now has a new number in it. Bragging is unbecoming and will create a wedge between you and former co-workers. Put yourself in their shoes. It is a given that your salary has increased, and nobody needs to know beyond that. It is also unprofessional to share that kind of information, as it can create tension.

Remember that some people will feel equally qualified for the role you landed. There is a good chance some of your peers applied for the same management role you now have. You need to remain sensitive to this possibility. So, be gracious but humble. C.S. Lewis once said: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but of yourself less.

Show Confidence

You were promoted because you are qualified to do the job. So, you must present yourself with confidence and resilience. You need to lay the groundwork for how you want to be seen and heard. Don’t come across as being in over your head (even if you are). Be consistent in your leadership style.  Show that you are capable of making the right decisions and can be trusted.

Displaying uncertainty and lack of confidence will have your former peers questioning your ability to lead and influence them.  Remember that you were the right choice!

Be Authentic and Communicate

Strive to maintain an unwavering level of authenticity. Be trustworthy. Do not morph into a completely new person overnight. You are still James or Susan or Martha, albeit with new and more significant responsibilities.

Communicate openly with your team, and show that you have their best interests in mind. Do not remove yourself from day-to-day interactions and close yourself off from former colleagues. Now more than ever, you need to show that they too can benefit from having you in this new role. Show what you would like to change and improve. Involve the team in these conversations. Help them see your promotion can make a difference for them and the company.

Remember to share your vision with your former peers and ask for their feedback. Let them know you respect their opinions as much now as their leader as you did when you were colleagues.

Seek Leadership Training

You should seek professional leadership training and development. By learning effective and powerful methods of communicating with your former peers, you will inspire them to be the best employees they can be.

The fact that you were once one of them shows everyone what they too can do by following your example.

Don’t waste this opportunity.