When you must manage your former peers
  • leadership
  • Blog post

When you must manage your former peers

Imagine a situation where a new manager – let’s call her Becky – suddenly has authority over a person who, just two weeks ago, was a peer. Before, Becky and her colleague – call him James – could go out for an after-hours drink and talk about “the company.” They could complain about pay and benefits. About long hours. About half-baked senior management decisions.

But now Becky’s part of the management team. If she hasn’t yet figured it out, she’ll soon realize that from her former peers’ perspective she’s different. She can’t have those conversations about “the company” anymore. She’s no longer “one of the gang.” In the eyes of rank-and-file employees, Becky IS the company! Her boss expects her behavior to be aligned with company’s core beliefs and values at all times.

Becky knows what her bosses expect, of course. What she may not realize, however, is that the people she now supervises expect it too. Sure, people want bosses who are approachable and who understand them. But they don’t want a boss to just be one of the guys. They expect — and need — a leader who’s willing to lead: to set direction, get things done and make the tough decisions. They don’t need another pal. They want and need a boss. That’s often a tough lesson to learn for for a new manager who’s come up through the ranks.

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