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Colleague as New Boss? Take it Easy

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Colleague as new boss? take it easy
Some people just don’t get it. It isn’t about the young overtaking the old. It isn’t either about insider vs outsider, or about those sucking up to bosses vs those who do not. Promotions and career growth have never been more ‘meritocratic’ in the corporate world than it is today.

As companies chase topline and bottomline growth in this aggressively competitive world, there’s little room for errors and emotions.

In these times it’s not rare that your colleague becomes your boss. You were the best of buddies, often shared drinks, bitched about your bosses together and knew each other inside out. Then he becomes your boss. You need to report to him. He monitors your performance. Deep inside you are feeling humiliated that you have been passed over.

More than that, every time you see his success you are reminded of your failures. Suddenly, you do not know how to talk to him. You do not know what’s ok and what’s not ok.

Perhaps few realise that peers who become bosses too are going through a range of emotions and anxieties. What to say and what not to say; he is under scrutiny every minute — super bosses watching over him, while subordinates too are eagle eyed.

What should you do? Here’s our tips on dealing with the situation.

Humility is important

Yes you are the boss. Circulars have gone out, super bosses have formally announced. But you do not need to wear the title on your shoulder. Do not orchestrate an overnight makeover — in terms of body language or your interaction levels. Your promotion has already endorsed your better performance. Now you need to show emotional maturity. But never be apologetic about your promotion.

You are anxious and so are the others you left behind. Talk to them, make them feel comfortable. They want to be reassured that though you have become the boss, you are still the same person. Just because you are the new boss, do not lose flexibility and be open to reason. Talk, interact, but also be careful as sometimes your light-hearted banter may not be taken in the right spirit.

Tap into relationships
You have shared drinks, you know their weaknesses and strengths well — use it to your advantage. No matter you are the boss, you are still part of the team — make the job, and not you, the focus of everything. Remember delivering on targets should be as important to you as them. So tap your knowledge about them to get the most. Also, avoid hiring outsiders immediately; it threatens them.

Peer-turned-subordinate accept it
Just accept it. It’s a part of life. Age, seniority, experience no longer hold meaning in such a meritocratic and rapidly changing world. The earlier you accept it, the better it is. Most big organisations transfer out executives who were direct contenders for the same job.

Go if you can’t
If you do not like being a loser and can’t get yourself to accept it, then move out. Creating a negative environment within the office will, of course, make things difficult for the new boss. Remember, your reputation and years of good work will just get overshadowed by your most recent behaviour, which could often get irrational.

Look ahead
See how you could grow in the organisation. Talk to super bosses — figure out where you lag and take stock of your weaknesses and growth path. It might be tough on your ego, but your buddy-turned-boss can really help you grow if you can communicate in a transparent manner and see how he could help you improve and grow.

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