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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Management

Who’s the Boss? A New Manager’s Guide to Changing Relationships

You've finally received that promotion—the one you've been working toward for what seems like forever. A bigger salary, an office to call your own, and a job title you can be (even more) proud of—sounds great, right?

The truth is, for all of the perks, a promotion to management level can come with challenges, too—especially if you'll now be in charge of managing your former co-workers. And while you may feel like you have to choose between maintaining your friendships and getting the job done, it is possible to do both if you keep a few simple tips in mind.

Be Considerate

If there’s ever a time to be extra-sensitive to your co-workers’ feelings, this is it. They may have applied for the same position, and they may just be a little jealous that you’re climbing the corporate ladder while they’re still stuck on the lower rungs.

And while you'd never purposely hurt anyone's feelings, you should also be careful to avoid unintentionally flaunting your success. Those fabulous stilettos you bought to celebrate your promotion? Show them off to your mom or your outside-of-work bestie—not your co-workers. The corner office you’re moving into? Enjoy the view, but avoid going on about it to your officemates who’re still spending their days staring at cubicle walls.

Keep in mind that your employees are probably little nervous about having a new manager, too—especially one who's been a friend and knows about all of their antics! And sure, you may remember the time your cube-mate called in sick when he was really at a matinee screening of The Incredibles 2, but try to treat your new relationship as a clean slate. While you don’t have to let bad behavior slide in the future, there's also no need to hold past misdeeds against anyone, or to bring them up again.

Step Up to the Plate

Part of your job as a manager is to represent the company and encourage your employees to play by the rules. So, as a boss, there are some things you'll have to give up—as in, no more complaining with the girls about your office's totally lame no-jeans policy or speculating about how much the CEO makes. You may also now have access to sensitive information like salaries and disciplinary measures, but you'll need to keep it confidential, even if the subject comes up outside of work.

This is also a good time to forego any habits that could set a bad example for your team. If you've been used to showing up late or regularly taking extra-long lunches—it’s time to stop, or your employees might start to think that punctuality is optional and the one-hour lunch break is more of a suggestion than a rule. All eyes are now on you, and it's your job to set the tone for the office and make it clear that you deserve that fancy new title.

Maintain Friendships

At the same time, make it clear to your work friends that, while your relationships with them might be a little different, they haven't changed for the worse. Sure, you might not be able to single them out for special treatment, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy some office bonding time. If you and a co-worker love taking a Starbucks break once a week to rehash the latest episode of The Bachelor, it’s OK to continue the tradition.

What about after-hours socialization? Keep in mind that your co-workers might feel a little weird inviting you out to happy hour now. If you get the feeling that they aren't quite sure how to act, take the initiative and invite them to do something fun. Soon, they'll see that your job title may be different, but you're the still same friend they know and love.

Finally, encourage your team to talk to you about any questions or concerns, and give them a little time to adjust to your new role. It may take a few weeks for everyone to settle in, but over time, being a boss—and being a friend—will seem natural for everyone.

Photo courtesy of University of Exeter.