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How to Handle Transition from Peer to Boss

March 23, 2017

Legal Liability,Termination, Tolerationby Carl Nielson (connect with Carl on LinkedIn)

Being promoted over your coworkers is a tricky situation. It’s important to get off on the right foot with your former peers and to make the transition as smooth as possible. You also need to realize it is a new team now with a new manager.

Ideally, the team will learn about your promotion from someone above you. But if you have to make the announcement yourself, be modest with the wording. This isn’t the time to toot your own horn. Don’t let people make assumptions about what your new relationship will be like — show them. Meet with each team member one-on-one. If you competed with a peer for the job, pull them aside to say you value their contributions. Take a specific action to back up your words, such as assigning them to an important task. And don’t introduce any sweeping changes right away. No matter how good your plan is, plan changes to go into effect once you’ve established your credibility as a manager.

For any new manager, speed to optimum performance without missteps is desired. A highly effective strategy is to bring in a facilitator to conduct a new manager assimilation exercise. This includes upfront team assessments and other prep work by the consultant. The goal of this exercise is open dialogue with the team, building of trust and avoiding the Forming, Storming, Norming Performing new team phases (Bruce Tuckman, 1965) that most teams experience when left on their own.

A state-of-the-art new manager assimilation program uses as its framework the work of John Gabarro, a professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at Harvard Business School. In his book, The Dynamics of Taking Charge, Gabarro reported five distinct phases of management integration. The first two phases, called Taking Hold and Immersion, are focused on orientation and learning. Without intervention, this can take up to 18 months. A New Manager Assimilation Program is designed to shorten that time frame considerably to allow the new manager to arrive more quickly at Phase 3, Reshaping, in which he/she begins to implement his/her own business strategy.

To learn more about what is included in a new manager assimilation program go here.

Partially adapted from The Harvard Business Review Manager’s Handbook: The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out

Is it possible to consistently hire top performers? YES. Is it possible to create high-performing teams? YES. Can you create change that creates a sustainable culture of trust, engagement and speed? YES. How costly are the missteps you are taking?

Carl Nielson is a talent strategist serving global and mid-cap market leaders & high-growth small businesses. Carl’s passion throughout his career has been to co-create sustained improvements in workforce performance.

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