Have you ever been in a situation where someone in your team got promoted while everyone expected another person to get that promotion? Or worse still, you are the one that expected it and the promotion passed over you!

Welcoming a new boss can be complicated, especially when they used to be your co-worker. How do you make a graceful transition from being a peer to reporting directly to this former co-worker?

You can learn to thrive under the new leadership whether you’ve been close allies or friendly rivals in the past.

Here are some suggestions for restructuring your professional relationship.

Steps to Take With Your New Boss

 1. Congratulate them

This is the time to congratulate your former co-worker on their success. This step should be obvious but it’s also easy to miss. Be specific and sincere in your congratulations. Describe at least one quality or achievement you admire about them.

Express your enthusiasm about working together, even though you may not be feeling it. Finally, follow up with a quick email repeating your thoughts.

2. Exercise discretion when sharing personal information

Setting boundaries is a major part of the transition. It’s prudent at this point to be more discreet about family or health issues that could affect your job.

This is not an easy step if you used to share confidential information with your boss. However, it’s to your benefit to create the boundaries early on in the new relationship, as uncomfortable as that may be.

3. Offer your support

Helping your boss succeed enhances your own future. Volunteer information that will help them familiarize their expanded responsibilities. Take responsibility for your actions and dazzle them with creative proposals or suggestions.

4. Accept feedback

Your former peer will now be overseeing your work. Listen with an open mind and appreciate the guidance. Keep in mind that they too may be struggling with the new boundaries and ease the way for them as much as you can.

5. Schedule or request for one-on-one meetings

Even if you have a long track record together, you’ll need opportunities for private discussion. Ask pertinent questions and place a high emphasis on collaboration.

6. Create a learning opportunity

Unless your new boss got the promotion in an underhand way, they must be doing something right to have received it. Pay attention to how they operate and how senior management interacts with them if this was a credible promotion. You may discover a role model for your own success.

Steps to Take for Yourself

It’s great to be a team player and to help your former co-worker ease into their new role as your boss. At the same time, you must take care of your own growth and well-being. Here are some steps to try out.

1. Anticipate change

There will be different approaches and experiences ahead even if you’re still dealing with old friends and familiar faces. Strive to accommodate the preferences of your new boss. You’ll build goodwill that strengthens your connection.

2. Sort out your feelings

It’s natural to feel left out or passed over when a colleague is promoted instead of you. That’s more so if you wanted the position or if you’ve been with the company longer. Accept your emotions and make decisions that  enhance your professional reputation.

3. Don’t encourage special treatment

Other employees may be uneasy if you’ve been close with the new boss. Be helpful and respectful with all team members as this will earn their confidence and trust. Don’t be tempted to slack off or take advantage of your relationship with the boss. Take on tough assignments and share credit with the team.

4. Get clear about your intentions

You need to examine your own motives as well in relation to your supervisor. Do you value them for their personal strengths or are you trying to score special advantages for yourself? Be clear about this and get on the right track. The benefits you get when you take advantage of the situation now can backfire on your in the future.

5. Avoid and squash gossip

New leadership generally triggers an increase in wild speculation and unfounded rumours, some of which may be malicious. Stick to the facts and speak well of others to your boss. Also speak well of your boss to others even if you have negative feelings about them having been promoted instead of you or someone else.

6. Motivate yourself

All changes, even positive ones, come with a level of stress. So take care of yourself and stay strong. Use regular exercise and meditation for relaxation. Give your body the rest and nutrition it needs. Draw on your strengths and remember your achievements no matter what is happening around you.

7. When all else fails…

Then again, major changes at work can cause you to realize that it’s time to move on. If this is so, give appropriate notice and leave on good terms. You can request a previous supervisor to serve as a reference if they’re more familiar with your work.

Can it work for the better?

While your roles have changed, you already know your new boss from the time you’ve spent working side by side. Use your knowledge to make your new relationship supportive and productive. You’ll feel happier at work and create more opportunities for your advancement.

Your turn

Have you been in a position where a co-worker suddenly became your boss? How did you handle it and what were the results? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments.

(Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.