Sally is thrilled that she is now managing the team she has worked with for five years. She is worried a bit about Seth, though. Sally and Seth have had a great working relationship as peers for three years. However, Seth wanted the leadership job, too, and has been notably silent since Sally’s promotion was announced.

How can Sally re-establish a positive relationship with a former co-worker she now supervises?

Our top three tips are:

  1. Be open about the discomfort and show support for the former peer. Sally needs to initiate a private, short conversation to reassure Seth that she has his back and will support him in his continued growth.
  2. Move slowly but deliberately. Yes, Sally’s the new boss and probably feels eager to make a big impact. Even still, she should not charge in and start making huge changes. Start with high-reward, incremental moves that will boost team functioning.
  3. Establish regular feedback channels. Sally may have had an open relationship with her peers, and she needs to work to make sure that continues now that she is the manager. Focus on finding one or two key people on the team who will be 100% honest and forthright about what needs to happen, including feedback on Sally’s leadership.

For more great tips on transitioning from peer to boss, read HBR’s How to Manage Your Former Peers.

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash