When Your Colleague is Now Your Manager

High angle shot of a group of business people

Your colleague—maybe even your lunch buddy—is now your manager. How can you navigate this shifting dynamic gracefully?

You have the power to make this transition a career-limiting or career-enhancing experience through your actions. Here are four ways to make the most of the situation.

1. Step Up

No matter how you feel about your colleague becoming your new manager, it’s important to buy in early and show that you’re a willing partner. Embrace the situation and get on your manager’s calendar. Share that you are on board with the new team structure, and ask how you can support him or her during the transition.

Your actions and outlook are huge indicators of whether you’ll succeed moving forward.

2. See What You Can Learn

Stop questioning why it was that person (instead of you) who was promoted. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on or enhance your contribution and skills. Where might you need to grow or change? Ditch the jealousy, and look to your new manager as a role model. How is your manager delivering on what the unit values? What can you learn from your new manager or this situation?

3. Accept Reality

If you had hoped to be the manager, you could see your colleague being given that role as a setback—or as a decision that’s already been made. So avoid negative self-talk and use your energy to answer the question, “How can I improve?”

An “I’m not good enough” mindset—not your circumstances—may be holding you back. Adopting a fresh outlook and redirecting your energy will make all the difference. You may even find you prefer your co-worker to your old boss!

4. Change the Conversation

If you hear fellow colleagues complaining, change the energy of the conversation. Say something sincere and positive about your new leader. Then, ask everyone involved about how they can help to mitigate their own fears or complaints.

After all, you never know when you could be next in line for more responsibility.

Adapted from: What to Do When Your Co-Worker Becomes the Boss (or You Do)