ASK HR: You’re a boss now, expect co-workers to treat you differently

Friday January 11 2019

Gossiping workmates.

I am surprised at how differently they treat me now, going to the extent of excluding me from informal discussions and social gatherings. PHOTO| FOTOSEARCH 

MWIKALI MUTHIANI
By MWIKALI MUTHIANI
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Q. I recently got promoted and now supervise four former teammates. It has been three months since and I am surprised at how differently they treat me now, going to the extent of excluding me from informal discussions and social gatherings. We no longer hang out together anymore. I feel excluded and hurt. How do I get them to know that I value their friendship despite being their boss?

Congratulations! You are now running ahead of the pack, and though a few things will need to change for better, you need not be afraid nor take it to heart when your colleagues treat you differently.

I like that you value your team’s friendship because it is crucial in enhancing an enabling work environment, however, a number of things are bound to change when people move to areas of more responsibility.

It is therefore important that you understand that you will not be treated any differently because they were your close peers. I wonder how often you hanged out with your previous boss, went out for lunches, drinks or even shared occasional office banter.

If this did not happen, then do not expect it to happen now that you are on the seat. Instead of feeling hurt by this exclusion, go look for some new friends in your league and I assure you that this need will be sufficiently met.

That said, it is important to encourage a healthy informal relationship with your team, so once in a while, take them out for lunch or a drink. Though the conversation is likely to be more business-like, do not be offended if they do not talk as freely as they did.

Remember that tables have turned and now you are not just their supervisor, but have a lot of influence over their performance reviews and career growth. They will for sure tend to be guarded, and should this be the case, allow them to be but reassure them that you will strive to not only be fair and objective, but also supportive, so that together you can achieve your objectives.

Be less formal in your interaction with them, walk to their desks for consultation, guide them and solve their problems, ensure they have the right tools to do their job, reprimand them firmly and appreciate their work: It’s all about balance.

I also encourage that you strive to win their respect because if the team feels you deserve to lead them, they will relax and offer you the kind of friendship that affirms you as their leader.

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