I’ve been promoted to Office Manager. I’m pretty happy about that as it was a promotion I worked very hard to get. The problem is that now I’m the supervisor of a group of people that I used to be “one of them.” Now I’m not. One of my first hurdles is breaking the news to them. I still want to be friends, but I’m not sure if this will end the friendship or not.
How to “Break it to them gently”?
Dear Break It to them gently:
Congratulations on your promotion. You should be proud of yourself. You should also be confident that you are professional enough to handle your new circumstances. I hope your friends are too.
When it comes time to break the news to them, wait until it has been announced. Don’t whisper in advance to them like you are sharing some type of secret. You have to start acting the position immediately. That doesn’t mean cold and aloof, it means professional. So say nothing until it is announced. If there is speculation within the group, don’t participate in the conversation, or find a way to excuse yourself when the conversation starts. Taking your coworkers into your confidence might certainly backfire on you. Wait.
Once it has been announced, expect perhaps a little jealousy, a little fear from them. They don’t know what the new rules of your relationship will be. It is normal and you can lay the groundwork as a great manager by taking time to speak to them individually. Ask if they want to come to coffee break or lunch with you. Don’t expect them to ask you.
While you are meeting with them, don’t feel the need to explain why you got the promotion. It will sound like justification. It’s okay to be human and admit you are a little nervous or scared. You can talk about getting the job, but not “why” you got the job. You also don’t need to bring up the fact that they also applied but were not the successful candidate. Don’t justify the decision.
Be honest about what you need with your new team. If you need support, ask for support. If you need help in a certain area, ask for it. Be sure to show that you are able to listen (you shouldn’t be the only one talking during this conversation), don’t forget how important your network is, but remind yourself that at work you might have some new boundaries that you didn’t have before.
Be very careful about letting your new promotion go to your head. If you do, you’ll find that your friends are not so friendly at all. While peer envy is normal, don’t create it either. Be yourself, just less of it at work.
It will take time for everyone to adjust to the new boundaries. Give yourself that time. Give yourself permission to grow into the position, and give your friends some time to learn the new rules of the relationship.
The ability to lead or be the leader does not depend on knowing all the answers, but in knowing where to get them.