4 Tips On How To Manage Your Former Peers

Let’s talk for a moment about what really happens when you get promoted and all of a sudden you’re no longer a peer but now a manager.

You’re excited, yet you’re nervous. Right?

While everyone congratulates you, on the inside, you wonder…

Can I actually do this? What have I gotten myself into? While my friends who were my peers now also respect me as their manager?

These are very normal and typical concerns many people have when they get promoted and step up to lead their team.

Being a new manager is a tough transition in itself and managing your former peers makes it even trickier.

But with the right guidance, you can absolutely do it!

To help you get started on the right track, here are a few tips to ease the discomfort you might feel during your first few weeks in the role.

1. Talk About Expectations

One of the most important steps you can take after being promoted to manage former peers is to have a conversation with each individual regarding how the overall relationship and therefore expectations have changed.

Sit down with each team member and have a conversation regarding what this new relationship will look like.

Be forthcoming about stating “our roles have changed” and talking through what you expect of your former peers and, frankly, what they expect of you. Negotiate and, if necessary, re-negotiate those expectations. If you do this with openness and professionalism and show that you’re sincere, willing to listen, and are quickly backing up your words with action, you will be on the road to gaining their trust and respect.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

Think about the boundaries you need to put in place to make sure you’re not playing favoritism and aren’t getting yourself into unpleasant situations that could undermine your ability to lead the team. Here are some ideas what these might look like:

  • Do not discuss work outside of work with your former peers
  • Do not discuss at length personal issues at work unless they are important for you as a manager to address
  • Specify your role when offering advice – “Speaking as your manager” “Speaking as your friend”
  • Never share other employees’ information with a friend
  • Never vent to a friend who is also your direct report about work

3. Use Your Previous Role To Your Advantage

If you have been working with your peers for a long time, you probably know them pretty well. That means that you know their strengths and weaknesses, and you can set them up for success better than anyone else.

Delegate work that you know they can do well and give them the trust and autonomy to do it.

This can be a great way to keep them engaged even if they’re initially unhappy about this new situation.

While they might be bummed that they didn’t get the promotion, you can give them a great project or responsibility they’re excited about. Even if they’re resentful, this can help melt away some of those feelings knowing you have their interests at heart.

4. Lastly, Embrace The Change

You might miss the friendly interactions at first as people will tend to primarily want to have work-based conversations with you.

Realize that in order to gain something new you need to let go of something else. Embrace the change, even if it first feels uncomfortable. It will definitely get better over time.

The key to handling any uncomfortable situation is to not ignore it. Engage your team and find ways to solve the problem.

Talking about it and taking action are the only ways any situation will improve. That’s true whether that’s setting clear borders on your friendship while in the office, or helping someone get over the sting of being passed over for a promotion.

Tell me…

Have you been in a situation like this? Maybe as the peer or the new manager… If so, how was that for you? What was the most challenging? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time… lead with courage and care.


Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top