After a number of years of working with our colleagues, every workplace forms a certain dynamic. People from different levels across the departments interact in varying and distinctive ways. However, it is inevitable that workplaces will require a shuffle in leadership positions as other colleagues move on and offices restructure. Once we feel as though we have gained enough experience, we will often strive for a promotion. However, if we are successful, we can find ourselves headfirst in a dilemma – how do we go from being ‘just colleagues’ to being someone’s boss?
Whether it’s a slight increase in responsibility or a promotion for a management position, it’s a daunting thought to know that your relationship with your colleagues will change. Especially if you are friends. How do you avoid losing friends and professional relationships when you suddenly become responsible for delegating their work?
It’s a tough adjustment for everyone involved, so we have put together some tips for how to go from colleague to boss without compromising yourself or your relationships:
Acknowledge that the relationship has changed
There is no point trying to pretend that you don’t have authority now. If you try to be too relaxed or casual about it, it may appear like you are vying for your colleague’s approval, and you may lose their respect. Worse yet, your boss may not think that you’re taking the role seriously if you continue to pretend that nothing has changed. If you’re close friends with a colleague, it may be ideal to speak to them privately and discuss the changes that may come with this promotion.
Once we start to bond with our colleagues, inevitably the conversation turns to our personal life. Whilst you can maintain friendships with colleagues outside of the office and after hours, talking about intimate details of your personal life is no longer appropriate. It is definitely not okay to gossip about other people’s personal lives. There needs to be a professional boundary drawn where your personal life and friendships do not mix with your ability to make professional decisions.
Show confidence and delegate
Whilst it may take some adjusting, you will now find yourself delegating a lot of tasks that you used to complete alongside your workmates.There is a chance people could get defensive about taking orders from someone who used to also be in their position. If you maintain a pleasant and kind tone, you can delegate tasks to your old colleagues in a non-offensive way. As long as you are clear and kind about your role to your colleagues, there should be no issue.
Use your knowledge of the lower roles to better your new role
Not long ago you were sitting amongst your colleagues in the office kitchen, talking about how things would be so much better if your boss just tried ‘X’ approach to a task. Well, now is your chance to shine. Not only will your practical experience of a more entry-level role mean that you can apply practical changes to the role, this will show your colleagues that you still understand their role. The obvious benefit of this is also that you are proving initiative to your own superiors.
This is the most important factor to consider, and it will mean that you act with integrity within your new position. Where you listen to your colleagues, whether it’s their opinions on your new methods, or just their daily contributions to their own role, you will understand the people and the environment. This will mean you can make more informed decisions, and you will understand what is important to the company. Knowing when to stick to your guns and when to listen and make change is a fundamental factor in smoothly transitioning from colleague to boss.
Of course, the colleagues that we are close to at work will understand the change in our professional role and the effect this has on the workplace dynamic. If you maintain the professionalism that helped you to score the promotion in the first place, chances are, you will be doing the right thing.
WORDS BY CYNDALL MCINERNEY. If you’re looking to earn a promotion at work, contact one of our experienced mentors and find out how to make your dreams a reality here. Like PropellHer here on Facebook.
Thank you for your message. We'll be in touch as soon as possible!