“Where do you draw the line?” asked Pratap. He was a young manager I was interacting with. “Most of my team members were my colleagues earlier. I was one of them. After my promotion, I am sometimes confused. They are still friendly with me but it is not like the old times.”
“It should not be like the old times” I said. “You have a new role to play. While maintaining good relations with your team members is crucial for success, remember that things have changed – in their eyes , if not in yours yet. You are no longer “one of the boys”. You may even be branded as being not one of us but “one of them.”
Have a strong, positive relationship with your old buddies but remember it is your organization and its clients who pay your salary- not your old friends. Your first loyalty is to your job role.
Some friends may be happy at your success, some others may be jealous of you. As Oscar Wilde said “Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.”!
Explain to them that you have not changed -your role has. Some aspects of your new role may seemingly be counter to what your team likes. As a team member, you always considered it the manager’s headache to resolve problems, arrange for resources and motivate the team. After all, you argued, wasn’t she being paid much more for that? Today, you are that manager.
The relationship with the boss is an important part of work life. Gallup research resulted in lines that have now become legendary. “People Join Companies. People Leave Managers”
Here are some thoughts for Pratap- and many others like him:
• Don’t make abrupt behavioral changes. Make gradual changes to incorporate newer elements in your conduct such as socialising less ( if necessary), communicating performance expectations more clearly and leading by example.
• Demonstrate leadership by being able to guide them in their work and resolving their problems. Show that the new responsibilities were earned based on your competence –not merely by chance.
• Involve the team in major decisions. Get the team’s “ buy in “ by using them as a sounding post for ideas you want to implement. Actively seek their ideas and recognize their contributions. Give credit where it is due.
• Be seen to be impartial. Don’t show special favours to old buddies at the cost of spoiling team morale. Don’t dispense favours indiscriminately. Everyone likes a boss who is perceived to be fair.
Sure, positive relationships are invaluable for team success. But don’t let fostering relationships shift your focus from the more important components of your role.
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