QUESTION: My colleagues started behaving differently towards me after I became their manager.
FACT: They/might be cautious as they now see you as a management spokesperson.
That’s’ an uneasy situation through which ail first-time managers may have to go. People who have been your colleagues and friends, and who have spent considerable time with you, start behaving differently one you become their mar4ger. An awkward feeling creeps up between you and your one-time colleagues. While you are happy to get the position, their reactions also make you miserable. Yes, maybe, tome did come and congratulate you, but that may have, ‘peen for formality’s sake. Worse, some didn’t even both with the congratulations—they just smiled. But the worst is if you approach them when they’re having a conversation, and the talk suddenly dies down or shifts to a new topic to even try cracking a few jokes—jokes that had once evoked waves of laughter—but they are greeted with a polite smile, You indeed feel lonely in this new position.
Time is the best healer. Gradually, people will adjust to the new dynamics of the workplace. But how quickly this takes place depends upon you and how you handle the situation. If you are found to be too demanding, people will say you are showing off your new-found authority. If you become too lenient, they will consider you as struggling to come to terms with the new responsibility. Your other problem would be to convey the senior management’s message to the team without appearing as being a management spokesperson whose job it is to force a decision upon a team. However, at the same time, you should not appear to the management as being a union leader; one who pleads unnecessarily for the team-without knowing the policies involved. There will be many occasions where you may have to draw a thin line. After becoming a manager, your past record as an employee doesn’t really count: what will count is whether you value the work that your team members do. You should not behave as though you could have done things in a better way, nor should you interfere in the work of the team members, presuming that you would get a better result. You should try to become a role model for the team. Finally, if you are honest and transparent, and if you are able to gain respect for your management capabilities, in the due course of time, the team will accept you as their leader.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE NEW MANAGER? You are a first-time manager. You should know that the relationship that you had once enjoyed with your colleagues may not remain the same any more. You should be humble in interaction, but firm in seeking results. You should try to win over your team members by adhering to good management practices. But remember, don’t go overboard in trying to please them as that will dilute your position and also have a negative impact upon the team itself. And whenever it’s required, don’t hesitate to seek help from your own manager in handling certain situations. The passage of time will, of course, help In creating a smooth relationship, but you’ve got to remain focused on delivering results. That’s the best way to earn respect.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE NEW MANAGERS SUPERIOR? You should extend all your help to first-time managers, especially when they are going through such a transition. The feedback that you get from the team should be conveyed to the manager, as also your own direct observations. And if things do not improve, it’s time for some tough talk and action, such as transferring certain team members. You could also reduce the new manager’s responsibility so that he can focus better; and once he starts producing the desired results, you could restore his original responsibility.