Moving on up and finding yourself managing your friends! 

You’ve always been one of the gang, the first to get a round in at the pub, the first to laugh Whilst reminiscing about how that one drink after work ended up at a nightclub getting too flirty with Tina from accounts. You’re popular in the office, a person that is liked for who you are, but also because you do a good job. As a reflection of your hard work you are offered a promotion, amazing, everyone celebrates and says you deserve it. Before you know it you are back in that nightclub (although Tina has moved on) and you feel like Leo in Titanic.. “King of the world” .. But like Leo there is a sense of impending doom, not in a why didn’t Kate just shuffle up a bit on that bit of wood as there was room for two, but you think “can I bloody do this job?”

You turn up at work on the Monday morning waiting for the banter to commence, for life to continue as being “one of the gang” when you realise that Steve and Sue (your work besties) are now people that you have to manage. Can you still be their friend? How do you get them to do the job they are doing and still be their friend..? Is that even possible? It’s a difficult journey as in your eyes you think I’ve not changed but your boss is expecting you to deliver and your team to deliver and you are now not just responsible for your work but the teams work as well..  Your team still think you are one of the gang and some are going to think he’s going to go easy on us, or others might think you’ve got a bit too high and mighty or some might sit there in silence, judging and waiting for you to fail as they quite frankly could do a better job. So how do you gain credibility fast and respect but without losing your total identity.. Fun time Frank on Friday doesn’t want to be totally corporate spice come Monday lunchtime, it’s about finding the right balance.

Know what’s expected of you in the role

When you get that promotion, sit down with your boss and get your objectives, have a clear understanding of what you need to achieve and what the team need to achieve. Get timescales and make sure you know what’s expected. Ask questions, people will not expect you to know everything. Obviously you’ll want to put your own stamp on it, but be mindful of what has gone on before and make positive change rather than change for changes sake. Make sure that you take your team along with you during this cycle of change.. People react very differently to change and even though they have been your friends they may well be resentful of the sudden upheaval and may well be wishing things were as they were before. 

Always remember as well you’ve been given this job because you are the best person and are deemed capable. It’s very easy for us to look through rose coloured glasses at our previous roles where we were emerged in our comfort zone. Remember you were bored and wanted to be pushed, you are ambitious and smart and you can do this.. So avoid the cycle of doom where those voices in your head believe that it is some freak accident that you’ve ended up where you are.. Along with this comes the voices of paranoia.. You feel that you are just waiting to be caught out.. Well remember you are doing this job and you can do it well…focus on that.

Know what’s expected of the team

Have a clear idea of what your teams roles are and what is expected of them, are they achieving that? What other factors are going on to affect them… Even when you’ve been working alongside someone for years the shift in power can affect the relationship. Big Hellos and banter in the pub can be replaced with a frosty professionalism and so much shade it’s like the blinds are permanently drawn. Remember this attitude is about them and not you. Be professional don’t over compensate but also don’t change who you are..

Communicate, communicate communciate

Nothing breeds suspicion more in a team than a lack of communication. People love to gossip and speculate and innocent requests to do something can be seen in a multitude of ways. Give the team the biggest picture you can and be as transparent with them as you can. I’m mindful that this won’t always be possible but when a team know the reasons behind something they are more likely to get on board. 

Have regular meetings with the team both as a team and as individuals, be open with them and most importantly LISTEN.. Address concerns but don’t dismiss them, but at the same point ensure that the work gets done.. This is a tricky tightrope to cross.. You may well have a voice screaming in your head “just bloody do it!” Or pressure from your managers but listen, take on board, question and then empower them to do it!

Empower your team

Make your team feel as though they can be part of the change, that their ideas will be listened to and taken seriously. Listen to their ideas and get them to develop themselves, ensure that they come to you with solutions rather than expecting you to answer all the questions. Sometimes it’s much easier to just tell them exactly what to do but if you let them develop their own ideas and come to you with them and they know you’ll support them, well then you are going to have a more motivated team. Some people are reluctant to this, they want to stay in their comfort zone, to have a quiet life and that’s fine. Change can be a scary business but you just need to be open with them and get them to see the benefit in them stepping outside of their comfort zone.. Let them know you are on their side, you want to develop them and that you are open to their ideas.

Tell them what’s expected and when they don’t meet the mark

Make sure there is no ambiguity in terms of their tasks, be very clear as to what you want them to do, let them know when you need it done by and if appropriate tell them why you need it done.. At the same point if they are not doing what you asked then tell them. Not in a “don’t make me come over there!” In front of everyone else kind of way. Take them to one said and ask them why it hasn’t been done and what constraints they had, be open and honest but also let them know where they have made mistakes. Over the years I’ve spoken to so many managers who are scared of any form of confrontation who won’t tell someone they are not doing something. This results in the team thinking they can slack or simply being unaware they aren’t doing what they are supposed to. 

Equally when they do something good, beyond or are simply just super helpful then let them know.. We can often be sat at work unsure of what are bosses are thinking of us so if you feel they are doing a great job then tell them so..

Be human

You don’t have to totally change don’t come in on Friday as everyone’s mate and then on Monday as a cross between Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and Alexis Carrington.. You don’t need to change your personality, you can still be you. Your team will respect the human side to you.. It’s a fine line as they expect you to be strong and together so don’t be all ” I really don’t know what I’m doing lol” but just be you.

The journey from colleague to boss can be a bumpy ride, but be clear, be open and remember you are good at what you do and the road will be much smoother! 



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