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Managing Editor, Network World Fusion

Managing your peers

Jan 28, 20034 mins
Data CenterOracle

* How do you successfully move from co-worker to boss?

There are many challenges when managing a new team, even more if you were formerly a member of that group. One of our reader colleagues recently posed a question on that topic: “I am getting ready to apply for a Branch Service Manager position. If I am selected for the position, I will be managing some of my co-workers, as well as employees from other sales channels that will be integrated into our branch. How do I move from being co-worker to being manager of ‘friends’? “

For the best advice, I turned to Steve Norman, an Oracle senior manager who also teaches business and management at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He acknowledges the situation is a tough one. “There is also an inherent challenge associated with this. . . .We might have friends, or at minimum some sort of relationship, [with those] who we now either manage directly or at least have some authority over. What can have a more dramatic impact is that some of the people you are now managing might have even applied for the very same position you were hired for.”

Here are Norman’s suggestions:

* “Hold a meeting with your team as soon as possible. Have an open discussion about the new relationship you now have with the team. You might openly discuss how uncomfortable this is going to be at first for everyone (including yourself), but you also must stress that you all must work through these issues to all be successful. I have found that it is best to get these issues out in the open and let the others openly discuss their thoughts and feelings around the subject. This is a good opportunity for you all to discuss the feelings you have and will then allow for you all to come to a method for working through these so that you can then get down to business sooner and more productively.”

* “Either during the same meeting above, or during a separate meeting, sit down with your new team to discuss what they see as the major challenges the team faces (i.e., the getting on with business part). You might have some of your own ideas as to what the challenges are, but by allowing the team to help identify the major challenges, then by allowing them to help set methods for resolving these, you create ownership, and thus, commitment, by the team in the overall resolution.”

* “Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more you communicate with your team (both formally in meetings and informally by walking around and talking with them) the more in tune you all are with each other and with the tasks required for you all to succeed. I used to spend the first hour of each day walking through the team area with a note pad asking the team what they need from me today, how they are doing, etc., and then by following up on these tasks. This also shows your commitment to them and their success and can be very powerful.”

* “Delegate responsibility to the team. Again, this will help create ownership. commitment, growth and job satisfaction. This will also allow the team to focus on the team and business needs. A key here, though, is to be sure to pick the best people for the critical tasks. Too often, new managers will pick their old friends for the highly desirable tasks, and this creates resentment from the other team members. One thought is to find the people who might be putting up some sort of resistance (for example, the person who applied for your job and didn’t get it) and getting them engaged immediately. Perhaps they can be given the special and sought-after assignment. This is a good way to get them engaged and working for the overall good of the team.”

Next week we’ll have more of Norman’s great suggestions for tackling this tricky role.