Today’s post is a post I wrote for the Women of HR blog. It is reposted here with permission.
I am posting it here today for a few reasons. The most important reason I share it is to encourage you to share your stories in our new forum. We want to gather stories about your leadership transition because stories are powerful vehicles for growth. Stories help us think about our experiences and the lessons we can draw from them. When you share your story, you will learn. When you share your story, others will learn. To access the forum, you must register in our community as a book member. Follow the instructions on page 5 of From Bud to Boss. Don’t have the book? Buy one from your favorite online retailer today.
Maribeth and I started our new positions on the same day.
We vaguely knew each other from our previous work in the organization. To celebrate, we decided to go to lunch.
Over salads, we began to build a friendship. Though we each got busy with work, we regularly set aside time to check-in with each other.
Our offices were adjacent, so we saw each other at the office and chatted frequently. We didn’t see each other outside of work, but we enjoyed a close working relationship.
Until our organization posted an opening for a new supervisor position in our department, until she was selected from a group of interviewees, including me and others in our department, until she became my supervisor.
On that day, there was no celebratory lunch and laughter over salads. There was only me, sulking in my office, disappointed over a lost opportunity.
It went downhill from there. I resented having her review and approve my work. I questioned her decisions, not publicly, at least, but internally. I smugly told myself that I would have been a better choice. I avoided contact with her at all cost, interacting with my previous supervisor as much as possible; using the excuse that Maribeth wasn’t available.
With the perspective of years, I wonder how her transition to leadership affected her. Was she as uncomfortable with her new role as we, her former peers, were? What effect did our attitudes have on her experience? What training and guidance did she receive? Who celebrated with her on the day of her promotion? Who did she socialize with once she became a supervisor? Did she ever regret being the one chosen?
I am certain of this – in her position, I would not have known how to relate to my former colleagues. I would have been unsure of how to give guidance and direction to friends. I would have longed for someone to help me through the awkward transition, for a handbook to refer to, a training to attend, and a circle of support around me.
Have you ever experienced the awkwardness of a friend’s promotion? What affect did it have on your relationship? Have you experienced a difficult transition to leadership in your organization? What resources helped you?