I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, D, where he was telling me about a colleague (now estranged friend) with whom he started his current job with.
This mate of his didn’t get promoted when he did and has reacted proper weirdly….so now its so difficult being friends with him because asides the fact they cannot relate based on work duties anymore, his friend doesn’t seem to want to remain friends.
D literally goes to spend some of his free time at his mate’s office but that still isn’t helping.
When I heard this, I remembered an a case study from a HBR article – about bossing former peers – I had studied in the past and decided to make this our topic for Day 3. This post would basically be a mixture of the article and my thoughts.
For our outfit of the day (OOTD), I embodied the first word in our title, ‘changes’ by changing my footwear. LOL.
There are obviously no stringent rules to follow when your former equals become your subordinates, most of how this can be dealt with depends a lot on your leadership style and your type of organisation but find below some steps/ways to make this easier.
a. Start softly: Do not come in with an ego or trying to make drastic changes in your team. Tread lightly. Its okay to change things like the meeting times, your new deputy or a form of team procedure like a roaster. Start with lighter things then when you get to understand your team better you can progress to bigger changes which should be in the best interest of your colleagues.
b. Pull yourself away: Contrary to what my friend above, D, is trying to achieve, experts Sutton and Watkins both believe you shouldn’t be close to ex peers.
“You can’t continue to have relationships in the way you did before.
This is a loss for everybody but it’s part of the deal,” says Watkins.
So basically try to reduce your social outings with your subordinates. Also you do not want to be seen as partial so staying clear of unnecessary friendships is recommended.
“If you’re not feeling a little bit lonely and left out, that can be a sign that you’re not distancing yourself enough,” says Sutton.
c. Remember you also now have a new boss: Though our focus here is former mates, its necessary to note that for a credible stand as a new leader you need to develop a good relationship with your new boss as that can pose challenges as well. The progress of your team would always make you look good but a good rapport with your new leader would be very advantageous for you and your teammates.
d. Dealing with the ‘loser’: One of your mates might have been eyeing your new position. This makes the situation more complex. You should either leave things be and let them adjust naturally or according to Watkins say something to them like; “I understand you’re disappointed. You’re an important part of this team, and I’m going to make sure you have what you need to succeed.”LOOL, I might give you the daggers if you tell me this though. *sigh*
e. Try out new personas: Okay so I do not know if this is necessary but the experts think it is so..
(word for word).. Because you need to determine new ways of interacting with your former peers, you’ll likely need to try a few things out. “Nobody is going to get it right the first time,” says Sutton. He suggests you try what INSEAD professor Herminia Ibarra calls “possible selves.” These are subtle variations in how you lead. By experimenting with different ones, you can figure out what works and what doesn’t. Sutton warns that you’re not drastically changing your personality, or your leadership style, but you’re prototyping to see what works for you.
The HBR article was written by Amy Gallo who is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review. Follow her on Twitter at @amyegallo.
Top: Liverpool Street Market
Shoes: Charlotte Olympia (flats) and Hobbs (heels)
In summary, ease into your new position without making instant drastic changes and try to get honest feedback from your former equals. Remember to develop a good relationship with your new boss and be a credible leader.
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“Creativity is a function of leadership. It requires navigating uncharted territory and having the courage to face adversity to bring your vision into fruition.” – Linda Naiman