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What it takes to go from bud to boss

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

If you received a promotion and suddenly found yourself supervising people who were your peers the day before, would you know how to break the ice and make a smooth transition?

That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum:

“I’m going to be supervising two other admins for the first time. I’ve never worked with them directly, and I want to come in that Monday and accomplish two things: First, I want to tell them I’d like to be a fun boss, but I also need to let them know that I have some very specific ideas about how we should approach the things we need to get done. Should I sit down with them as a group and lay it all out, approach them one by one, or wait and see how they react to me—the first week or even the first month?”

— Rich, records administrator

We reached out to three workplace experts to get their advice on the issue.

“When stepping into a supervisor role for the first time, it is important to be open, honest and friendly to your employees in order to gain their respect,” says Deb LaMere, vice president of HR strategy and employee engagement at Ceridian. “But being friendly does not mean you have to be their best friend. More so, it means adopting an inviting style with the people who you manage in order to earn their trust.”

Brad Federman, chief operating officer at management consulting firm F&H Solutions Group, agreed. “Trying to be everybody’s friend only makes it more challenging when you have to have a difficult conversation. Managing people is not about being liked; it is about being respected. You have to find the point of balance.”

When it comes to breaking the ice, the best solution is a mix of meetings, LaMere says. “Have regular de­­part­­ment meetings, while also making time to meet with each employee one on one. The one-on-one meetings should be casual for the purposes of getting to know the employee and letting them learn about you.”

In the end, the key to a successful transition is being clear about your ex­­pectations, leadership expert David Dye says. “Be clear about your commitment to your team and to the organization, your management ex­­pec­­ta­­tions, your leadership values and organizational mandates,” Dye says.

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