Making a Successful Transition from Peer to Manager

Were you recently promoted as a manager to supervise your former peers? See our tips on making it a smooth transition.



Have you ever experienced that awkward phase of not knowing how to interact with a coworker who was just promoted to a manager? You are now that manager! The good news is you can show what the new relationship will be like instead of making your team stumble through any discomfort.  

To help your team avoid an awkward phase in your new management position, enact your leadership skills of setting boundaries, building credibility, and establishing a schedule for one-on-one meetings.  

Setting Boundaries   

Maintaining personal friendships while being objective and fair to your entire team can be a real challenge. From being accused of favoritism to overcompensating and being overly harsh with your friends, being a first-time manager can create a tough situation to navigate with your new direct reports and can often lead to hurt feelings. 

To minimize friction, you will need to set and communicate boundaries with your friends to avoid misunderstandings. Have a frank conversation to let them know you are concerned about a smooth transition and how this new role may impact your friendship.

Ask your former peers how they feel about being a team member with you as their new manager. Being candid with your friends about your new position will help them be understanding, sympathetic, and open to your new responsibilities.  

In these candid conversations about your management role, help your new team understand the type of leader you would like to be and explain there may be information you cannot share, as well as things you may or may not be able to do. Building trust, improving performance, communicating expectations, and having a mentoring relationship are now critical aspects of your role.  

Supervising friends who were formerly on the same level presents unique challenges. Find a strong support network, stay professional, and set the example you want to see in them.  

Building Credibility   

As a manager, you will be expected to display new skills of guidance, support, and direction to your team, who you are now accountable for. However, some egos and emotions may get in the way of former peers supporting you in your new role. From jealousy and envy to expectations of getting special treatment, you will need to build credibility and trust as a manager.  

Be genuine about any feelings of being overwhelmed in your managerial role, but confident in your ability to grow. Let your team know you value their support, their suggestions for improvement, and their personal goals. 

An effective manager is responsible for employees’ performance and outcomes and for how the team culture is built. Model the behaviors you would like your team to adopt, set clear expectations, delegate effectively, and create transparent rules to hold yourself and them accountable.   

Establishing a Schedule for 1:1 Meetings   

Build rapport by keeping lines of communication open with your team members. Schedule individual meetings with each one to learn about their previous roles, what challenges they face, ideas they may have for success, and how they view their new job with you as their manager. Be sure to honor your commitment to meet with them.  

Going forward, use these regularly scheduled meetings in your management role to understand your employees’ goals, aspirations, strengths, concerns, and feedback about their roles and what they see happening with the organization. Keep notes to record feedback, identify action items, and report back about progress towards meeting your team's goals. Follow-up after collaborating with other departments, management, stakeholders, or anyone else involved with requests, suggestions, or any decisions that impact more than just your team.  

Remember, most new managers need hands on experience to become great leaders; transitioning to management is a learning process. Be patient with yourself!  

To further develop yourself as a team leader, consider opportunities for growth through books, podcasts, relevant workshops and training courses, and other resources. Contact your certified HR expert for more ideas regarding personal development. 

Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly. 

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