From Buddy To Boss: How To Manage Peers

Learning how to manage your peers after a promotion is hard. After all, the team you played beer pong with on Thursday night is now looking to you for direction. Do you know how to adjust?

Going from buddy to boss is a common coaching topic we tackle with new managers. Learning to exert yourself as a leader with a team who knows all your faults and flaws takes dedication and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Can a seamless transition happen? Not usually, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier.

Do Not Become A Doormat Or A Jerk

There is a huge difference in being an arrogant jerk and becoming a doormat. But, when it comes to management, jerks and doormats play the same role; that is, neither is respected as a leader.

To get past being a peer, without being a tool or being walked on, focus on leading before managing. Don't get sidetracked by how things were when you were a member of the team. As uncomfortable as it may be at first, you were selected as a manager for a reason. Step up.

Don't pick up the slack of a team member who pushes boundaries or taps into your personal relationship with them to build excuses for poor performance. Simply let them know your expectations, provide specific deadlines and follow-up to ensure they're doing their part.

Humble yourself to your team. Roll up your sleeves and pitch in when you can. Bring value to your team by removing roadblocks and helping them reach their goals. Just because you're now a manager, doesn’t mean you're someone special. Remain true to who you are.

Provide A Clear Vision Without Drama

Remove all emotion from interactions with your team. There will be bumps in the road and you may find yourself becoming an outcast or no longer invited to after hour activities. That's okay. Don't get wrapped around the axel on how something makes you feel.

Remember, you're there to do a job, so is your team. Treat each person with respect. Involve your team in planning projects, workflow decisions and delegation of tasks. By embracing a team mentality, you'll remove tension caused by your new position.

Keep in mind that all though you foster a team environment, you'll still have situations in which you'll need to take a stand and direct traffic. Don't second guess your decisions. Provide clear, constructive feedback and direction on your expectations to each person on your team. A clear vision with clear expectations allows everyone to do their part and understand their go get.

Lead With Purpose

A team will not succeed without leadership and you must step up and take the lead. However, leadership and management are two entirely different activities. A leader inspires people to do more, a manager oversees.

As a leader focus on challenging your team; drive them to reach their goals and work with them on their professional development. Take your role as a leader seriously. Don't get sidetracked by the good old days. Find a way to engage each person on your team; ignite their passion and fuel their growth.

People gravitate towards a leader they respect and look up to. If you become that person, no one will care that you were once a peer. If you cannot step up, then you will remain a peer in the mind of your team; boundaries will frequently be tested and your leadership will be questioned. Learn to lead versus manage and your career will thank you.

Need To Sharpen Your Leadership Skills

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About The Author

Recognized nationally as an industry leader in resume writing and career coaching, Jeanna McGinnis, CPRW is a Founding Board Member at Mentor Happy and AVP, Career Strategy at A Players Executive Search Group Inc. Leveraging more than 15 years of experience directing hiring practices for multiple Fortune 100 companies, Jeanna and her team are refreshing how busy professionals brand, market and drive their careers. Please connect with Jeanna on LinkedIn or the Mentor Happy team to simplify your career with updates on careers, job search and resume best practices!