This one is tough. There is no doubt about that. But this will happen many times in your career. You made an entry into the management structure at a certain level and your performance moved you up to the next level. When you move up, you move above your peers and colleagues. While you moved ahead, there will always be many more who did not. While you might be elated about it, there will still be others who will resent you for your success.
Learning to be happy for someone without letting your own happiness mar it is not something that we are taught or rewarded for. Our society rewards us for challenging someone and showing someone up, so being happy for someone else despite one’s shortcomings is seen as a sign of weakness. It is,
in fact, a sign of maturity and massive strength. I would like to share this with every reader out there. Unlearn spite and learn to embrace happiness for others and yourself.
When you move up the management ladder, while you might be excellent with the technical knowledge you possess, you will not move up after a certain position if you do not know how to handle people. The first test comes when you are promoted above your peers. No decent company will
tolerate rifts and commotions caused by bad interpersonal relationships. They seldom take sides. If you choose to take up a high-handed or confrontational approach with your earlier peers, you will run into emotionally charged, turbulent situations. You both run the risk of losing your jobs. If your team does not have your back you might as well be resigned to the current position. You are not going to get any further. So how do you handle them? This will set the tone for all your future promotions.
First, stop complaining.
Don’t pass the buck. Don’t take it lying down either. A good way of dealing with peers who are now juniors is to set a clean and clear process every time you take over a new position. My go-to method involves having a one-on-one chat with each team member in a friendly setting on my first day. While I would hear them out, I would also lay out a clear vision for the department that I have in mind. Seek their support. Let them cross question you on the vision and help them understand that you are only looking for team players. Answer every question with patience. A personal approach allows you to deal with diverse individuals with different approaches. Let them understand your vision.
This must be followed by a team meeting that allows all of them to voice their ideas and pool them in to achieve the shared vision.
Second, empower them.
Yes, this is a risky proposition. But you must learn to identify strengths in people and respect them for it. This is where the one-on-one meeting helps. Empower people with certain tasks and acknowledge them for it.
Third, let go of the ego.
It’s easier said than done, right? But not impossible. Ego is a deal breaker here. If you let this creep into your relationship with your team, it is building up for disaster. However, keep in mind that there is a difference between self-respect and ego. While you give them space to accept you as a boss, you need to be firm that you will not stand for any disrespect. Fourth, let go of the guilt.
Winners’ guilt is real. I have seen peers who rose above the rest get stifled with guilt and to assuage that, ended up messing up their promotions because they wanted to please their friends. How does that help anyone? Some of your peers might quit or ask for a transfer after you get promoted. Let them go.
A fair lot will also stick by your side. These are the people who you need to work with. Here is where your skill set and knowledge will help you establish natural leadership. Be the go- to person!
These are also the people who you need to spend that extra time with—to groom them for their next promotion.
This is how you build your tribe, one department at a time.