Promotions are amazing. After all, they validate your ability and leadership skills. However, many first-time supervisors struggle with the transition from being “just one of the team” to leading the team. It can be hard to imagine managing people you once saw as friends, and you can worry about whether they will accept you as their leader.
Some managers aim to overcome the problem by exerting too much authority. Others are soft and don’t exert enough authority. Either approach will cause you problems.
Managing your peers is definitely one of the toughest leadership challenges on earth, especially when it is your first leadership role. While it does take time to build the confidence to lead a team, here are some steps that will start you off on the right foot:
- Acknowledge the awkwardness. Let the team know how you are feeling. Chances are it feels funny to them too. By getting the topic on the table and talking about it, you are taking the best first step to improving your comfort and success. At the same time, explain that you all have a job to you, and that it is up to you to ensure that everyone meets the expectations of the job.
- Don’t show any favoritism. If you offer close friends plum assignments, let them off the hook when they break a team rule, or accept their ideas and feedback over others, your credibility will be shot. Treat everyone fairly and equally.
- Expect an adjustment period. You are adjusting, and so is everyone else. It may take some time for the rest of the team to take you seriously as the leader. Some will question your decisions. Envious teammates may even try to make your job difficult. Be patient with the transition, and focus first on proving your abilities and building their trust. However, do not condone disrespectful behavior or acts of sabotage. Address them immediately, making it well known that you will not condone such behavior.
- Be a leader. Don’t shy away from your leadership role. While you don’t want to rule with an iron fist, you need to take control, be decisive and guide your team. Be confident in your abilities. If you seem wishy washy or weak, employees will eat you alive. Go out there and do the job you were promoted to do.
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