Managing former colleagues and legitimating your authority


Career progression often implies managing people at some point. In the case where you get a promotion and stay in the same company, you might become the superior of people you used to work with. This situation can be quite tricky and uncomfortable for you and for them. Here are a few tips to be accepted by your peers and to maintain a healthy working environment.

1. Believe in yourself

If you’ve been promoted to a managing position, it’s because you’ve worked hard and you have the required skills for it. Doubting or feeling bad about getting this promotion will only make your colleagues wonder whether or not you have what it takes to be a manager. Self-confidence inspires confidence. This is the first step toward success.


2. Remember where you come from

Some people change when they start to handle responsibilities and it can bring tension to the team. You have to keep in mind that the employees you now manage are your former colleagues. Don’t denigrate them or act like you don’t know them anymore. A good manager is someone who is liked and respected by his team. Treat them with respect and do not change your behaviour toward them just because you have a higher position.

Nevertheless, being a manager implies a certain distance vis-à-vis your ex-colleagues. Gossiping, criticizing the management or other employees and taking sides in altercations must be forgotten. You now have be irreproachable and be an example. In case you are involved in a conversation like that, stay quiet or pretend you have something to do and leave.


3. Be impartial

It’s ok to be friends with some team members but these affinities have to stay at the doorstep. In the company, you are the manager and they are under your supervision. It can be tempting to forget about someone’s mistake because s/he is your friend or to give him/her more interesting tasks but the others will see it as favouritism and, let’s be honest, it would be. You must treat everyone equally and avoid showing preferences.


4. Be professional and make yourself indispensable

You shouldn’t stop doing what your team members do just because you’re a manager. You will of course have new responsibilities to handle, but keep some free time to be with them, teach them new techniques, give them some tips to better perform and help them to complete tasks if you see that they struggle. A good manager is someone who is admired for his human qualities and his expertise. Show them why and what they can learn from you.

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