IN TODAY’S economy, reorganisations are common and you may find yourself suddenly overseeing employees who were once at the same level as you.
While transitioning into a supervisory role can be exciting — possibly signalling a new phase in your career — it also means a shift in dynamics with colleagues, especially those who will now be reporting to you.
Your success in taking on a leadership role is dependent on building positive working relationships with direct reports and being able to exercise authority when necessary.
Here are some steps to help make the transition from peer to manager as smooth as possible:
Meet with your team
One of the first items on your agenda should be to meet with those you will oversee.
Arrange one-on-one conversations with each direct report to make sure everyone understands his responsibilities. These may have shifted due to recent staff changes or new focus areas in the company.
The meetings will also allow you to better understand your team members’ personal and professional goals, and what you can do to help achieve their objectives.
In addition, give employees a chance to ask questions or voice concerns they may have about the change in management so that you can work together to resolve any issues to ensure smooth teamwork in future.
Understanding the everyday responsibilities of your new position is the easy part; the subtleties of your role are often harder to gauge.
For example, is it appropriate for you to go out with the team after work? Are you allowed to joke with colleagues as you have done in the past?
Although there are no standard answers for questions like these, one thing is clear: You will need to set new boundaries as a supervisor.
In your previous role, you may have confided in co-workers when you were frustrated with management decisions.
But as part of the management team now, you must use discretion and offer support and guidance, not complaints, however harmless they may seem.
You may be closer friends with some co-workers than others, but as the team’s boss, you must treat each staff member with the same respect and concern.
Giving choice assignments to only certain individuals, for instance, hints at favouritism.
More importantly, paying special attention to a select few can cause you to overlook other talented team players.
Your responsibility as a manager is to ensure every employee is a productive contributor to the organisation, so delegate projects fairly and ensure each person’s workload is reasonable.
Be firm when necessary
Despite your best efforts, some employees may test your authority by ignoring directives, missing deadlines or being perpetually late to work or for meetings.
Take a steadfast approach when handling these situations. Each person on your team should already be aware of your expectations, and performance issues should be addressed and documented.
It may be tempting to relax the rules, especially for people you have worked with for many years, but doing so will only encourage the type of behaviour you want to quell.
No matter how challenging your job as a supervisor may seem, you are not the first person to be faced with these issues.
In fact, it is likely that many other individuals within your company have also had to navigate new relationships with co-workers after moving into management roles.
Speak to them about measures they took to overcome obstacles to success.
Becoming a manager is often the first step on your path to career advancement. Do not let a poorly executed transition derail your progress.
By communicating openly and often with your team, setting boundaries and seeking guidance from others who have been there before, you will ensure your move from peer to boss is smooth.