A work promotion comes with a lot of benefits. For some, one of the drawbacks is transitioning from a peer within a team to its manager. Overwhelmingly, the apprehension centers around respect.
The concern is fair and understandable, especially for first-time managers. You were part of the group that got together to complain about “the man” and now you are it (or representative of it). They know a lot about you personally, perhaps too much you wonder. If you have had conflicts, they were settled through negotiation as equals or by your manager. Now, that’s you.
It’s your word and your way. The buck stops with you, and you are concerned how they may respond when you shut down debate and make a decision.
There is one skill you must master to be an effective manager and it’s the only skill that addresses this issue: communication. A clear, direct conversation is needed to set the stage for your shared success. The actual language will depend on your relationship with your peers, but the message is the same: this is happening, and I need your support.
If possible, I recommend you have a conversation before the promotion is announced (approved by your manager, of course) to share the news and talk about implications. Ask for their support and patience as their new manager. Acknowledge that everyone stumbles and you might, but you will do your best not to drop them, and the whole team, in the process.
Let them know that it’s your goal to be the best manager possible. You know one of the first steps in being so is communication, hence this chat. Then, you make a commitment. If the previous manager had regular and frequent one-on-one meetings (at least bi-weekly), you should commit to maintaining that schedule. If the former manager did not, you should commit to one.
Employees want to know that they have a dedicated chunk of their manager’s time to review their performance. They want actionable feedback sooner than later. They also want advice and coaching on a regular basis. The one-on-one meetings that I hold as the cornerstone to any successful manager’s practice are the meeting where the employee gets all of these.
This first conversation can happen with the group. You can have a smaller version of the conversation with each team member soon after the group meeting. This approach will give you a chance to assess everyone’s thoughts, hopes, and concerns with the change. Remember, effective managers tailor the experience of each employee. You can only do that with dedicated time and attention to individual interests and needs.
Opening and committing to an ongoing dialog is part of the process of earning respect as a manager. Your team will give you a chance and if you have succeeded in soliciting their patience, a couple of chances to get things right. Managerial respect is lost when you go against your word (break trust) and appear ineffectual. These conversations are designed to give you time and opportunity to build trust with your team while you learn what your organization needs of you to be effective in your role.