From colleague to boss - your guide to the effective transition

As a young executive climbing up the corporate ladder, your life is fraught with difficulties at all levels. First you worked hard, putting in long hours, having a vision of the perfect way your department should be run and fought to get that promotion. One fine day you get the news that indeed you have been promoted!


But at the managerial level, it is a different ball game altogether, there are new rules, you are introduced to new relationships, you will see the organization from a different perspective and you will feel the first tugs of power plays. As a first-time manager, you will be bombarded with new administrative tasks, managing your time in a totally different way, but a more daunting task, and one that you probably are not prepared to play has to do with your interpersonal relations.


This is one of the biggest challenges that you might face - adjusting to the new office relationships. Internal promotions are extremely demanding when it comes to office relationships and of course delicate. You need to carefully negotiate in order to move from compatible colleague to respected supervisor.


Suddenly you become part of 'them'; phone calls from you colleagues now become business-oriented, lunches (if you still hang out with your colleagues) might become less personal and more work-oriented, a slight chink might appear in your friendship, an ever-perceptible tension. Because they know that you will be responsible for their performance evaluation, setting up their objectives and their hikes and raises.


Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, authors of First Break All the Rules, advise managers, "When you first start a new role, your needs are very basic."


Setting the rules


The most important thing to remember is that you were given this position because you had an inherent and natural flair for shouldering a managerial role. The idea is to get things straightened from the start, find the right balance.


Have a talk with your subordinates or ex-colleagues on an individual basis and discuss openly and frankly the grounds of the new relationship, be frank. Later have a combined discussion with the entire team.


Show them that you value your new position, but do it modestly. Nobody likes a supervisor who goes on a power trip or who acts high-handed.


Outline what they can expect from you as a manager and communicate your style of management.


Promote an open communication and listen with care what they have to say.


Establish the first traces of an amicable-authority, because jealous colleagues might be waiting to spot the proverbial Achilles' heel. Some might even want to take advantage if you are lenient.


Find the right balance of taking control of the new situation without exerting too much control yourself or losing the respect of your colleagues.


Share your vision of how you want the department to be run, be open to their inputs, ask them what changes they would like to see and tell them what you are planning.


Be particular not to be partial; it is natural for you to favor your colleagues, when it comes to assigning new responsibilities. Take this chance to build strong relationships with each member and if you see a fracture in any particular relation make sure you mend it at the earliest.


Make sure that you are available to them constantly, either by responding to their mails promptly or over the phone when they need inputs on any issue. This will yield the necessary respect, a prerequisite in the new relationship.


You will face new and stiffer demands from your supervisors as well as your peers who will gauge how you handle your new role. On the relationships front the most important thing is to be conscious of your new role while continuing to be yourself. Make sure that your maintain and nurture your earlier friendship beyond the office hours. But on the other hand, remember that relationships might be strained because you will be focusing all your energies on your new role, this is inevitable and almost a prerequisite when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. Take it as it comes, in your confident stride.