You always knew she had talent and was hard-working. Now the person who used to sit in the next cubicle is moving to a corner office. How do you manage the transition and the issues that will arise?
Discuss roles and expectations. Hopefully the new boss will initiate a conversation. If not, ask for a time to discuss expectations and priorities. Share what you’re working on and align on goals.
Address the relationship issues. Talk about what might change now that your former peer is your boss. If you’re friends, discuss how you’ll deal with others’ perceptions or concerns. Will your peers be on the alert for favoritism? Probably. Understand that your boss will need to curtail the social aspects, at least for a while; she may also not be able to assign you that coveted project right away.
Manage your mindset. It may not be comfortable to admit that you’re a little jealous; if you are, admit it and work through it so you can perform in a way that will put you in line for the next promotion. If you balk at having a former peer having control over your work life, recognize that it is a normal initial reaction. You just need to get over it, and hopefully make the best of it as well.
Support the new boss, but don’t be a guard dog. Colleagues will look to you to assess how you’re handling this change, especially if you were tight as peers. You don’t have to defend her every move or tell her everything that’s being said. Stay positive, encourage open communication and support everyone in achieving the team’s goals.
Keep the focus on work. In spite of this upheaval, there is work to be done. You’ll weather the storm favorably if you maintain focus and advance the organization’s mission.
Having a former peer as your new boss not only means that the priorities at work will likely change; relationships will change too. You can see that as a negative or as an opportunity to forge a partnership that works for everyone. It starts with the right attitude. As author Carlos Castaneda said, We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
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