You’re on the same team. You have morning coffee together. Lunch. Drinks after work. You complain, celebrate, collaborate. And then it happens.
You get promoted.
And your BFF is proud of you, happy for you, pledging eternal support, pleased as punch that he can now work for a friend instead of a gargoyle of a boss.
Bad news – you’re the new gargoyle.
It doesn’t always happen this way. And it doesn’t have to happen to you. So when you get that well earned promotion, take some cautionary steps to reset the power balance in the relationship. A little fine tuning early on can save you headaches and heartache later.
Step One: Learn and Listen Meetings. It’s a good idea to sit down one on one – maybe even out of the office – with each one of your new direct reports. Buy them lunch. Interview them. Ask what’s going well, and what isn’t. Ask what’s standing in their way of being as successful as possible – and what you can do to change it. Make no promises, but promise to communicate back.
Step Two: Have a Team Offsite. Get everyone together and report back what you’ve heard. Lay out your vision for the next six months, and have a group discussion about what it will take to get there. Put it on a calendar. Set accountability.
Step Three: Tell them how you like to be managed. Have an open door policy? Tell them. Want them to schedule individual meetings twice a month? Tell them. Hate long emails? Tell them. Be specific, direct and clear about how they should handle their new boss.
Step Four: Create a Team Contract. Not a pie in the sky mission statement, but agreed upon norms of action and behavior for the group. How do you handle disagreement? How do you pick among conflicting priorities? How do you share feedback? Discuss, write it up, circulate it – and let them know you hold yourself to the same standards and it will be a living document, part of talent review and development plans.
Step Five: The Follow Up Conversation. Here’s where you make it personal, and you make it stick. One on one meetings, where you respond to their early questions and ideas but you clearly set out your expectations for that person’s performance. Keep it positive by stressing their potential but also real about holding them accountable.
Step Six: Get comfortable with your authority. You will have to correct people who are your friends, tell them critical things, motivate and inspire them. Don’t come down like a ton of bricks but don’t wuss out either. People want what you want – honest, clear communication with a minimum amount of b.s.
Final Step: Never forget that you were one of them. And don’t lose the friendship – keep sending those birthday cards, ask about the kids, and look out for your friends – because they’re looking out for you.