Navigating the transition from co-worker to supervisor.
Transitioning into a leadership role is an exciting step in anyone’s career, but it can also be daunting if you will be supervising or in a senior role to those you previously worked alongside. Some simple mindset shifts and a commitment to a plan can go a long way in helping your adjustment.
So you’ve been promoted to a position with greater responsibility and influence! Your hard work and dedication have prepared you for an opportunity like this. The transition could bring a variety of challenges. You may recognize that you have a choice… a choice to focus on the challenges as obstacles or as opportunities. Opting to view these challenges as opportunities and lean into your ability to navigate uncertainty and change, will only add to your growth and leadership journey. Your self-awareness, emotional intelligence and communication skills will be key to navigating the transition. Understanding the importance of leading yourself well, seeking feedback and support will make this transition successful for everyone involved.
A few opportunities you may encounter: You were selected over another colleague, who will now report to you; there is an awkwardness among your team, previously peers, in how to bring issues to you; some team members question your ability to succeed in the new role.
Success lies in your mindset and approach. Commit to a mindset of: “I will seek to understand. I will assume positive intent. Together we can and will transition well.” Corral fear or anxiety over the “uncomfortableness” that can accompany an internal promotion. Set your mind to positive energy.
Embrace that this change presents opportunities to listen, learn and engage input from your team. There is an opportunity to strengthen connections, communicate desire to support their success, and make improvements that benefit everyone on the team. Creating a 30-60-90 transition plan can help to communicate the pathway and provide a roadmap for the transition to your team. A transition plan can calm some team anxiety, just in the fact that there is a transition plan and that their thoughts, feelings, ideas will be heard. Key elements of your transition plan include:
Phase I | Discovery
Phase II | Synthesize data
Phase III | Redesign/reset
Once you have your draft plan, share your plan with your supervisor and/or HR to garner their input and identify any areas they can provide support. The transition plan, effective communication (messaging), coupled with support from your supervisor and HR increase the probability of a successful transition from co-worker to supervisor. Incorporate feedback into your final transition plan. Then you will be ready to communicate your plan and the process with your team. Take action and follow through.
Phase I | Discovery – during this phase commit to investing time in discovery conversations to listen and learn. Meet one-on-one with each team member, with the intent to discover their thoughts and feelings about the change in leadership. Acknowledge that you understand you are not the only one who is navigating change. Ask what concerns they have. Invite them to share ideas they have for improving how the team operates, efficiencies, etc. Let them know that their input (thoughts, concerns, ideas) is part of the discovery process. Their input will be reviewed in Phase II and possibly incorporated into Phase III of your transition plan. Thank them for their transparency and candidness (assuming they were).
Phase II | Synthesize data - review and reflect on data from discovery conversations. Look for common themes identifying common concerns. Summarize all ideas and concerns, then draft messaging to communicate your discoveries and what (if any) changes will be made.
Phase III | Redesign/reset – schedule a time to share your summary data from Phase I & II of your transition plan with the full team. Preparation and timing are integral in delivering a message that is heard, and generates inspiration, buy-in and action from those receiving the message. Share the data and next steps. Encourage them to share questions and concerns. Make decisions for moving forward (next steps) as identified in Phase III. The final transition plan will include goals and action plans for 30, 60 and 90 days. These increments give the team firm due dates to rely on. This part of the transition plan should also include highlights of your growth plan.
Within our Leadership Institute, we provide instructions to build a Team Charter. A Team Charter can help steer the course as well as keep everyone on the same course. If you already have a Team Charter, you could invite the group to participate in incorporating the redesign/reset decisions.
The benefits of a transition plan include:
Beginning the relationship shift from co-worker to employee/supervisor through the discovery conversations.
Modeling inclusion and team through the discovery conversation(s) and communicating results.
Deposits to your leadership credibility account. The following actions have increased your credibility among your team:
Seeking to understand through the listen and learn conversations
Respect – asking for their input, concerns
Follow through – you shared the transition plan… then ACTULLY did it
Communicating that you are still the same person as before, you simply wear a different title and have different responsibilities. You are committed to their success as people and colleagues, as before. Perhaps you have more influence and leverage for their success as their supervisor.
Beyond the transition plan include your path for continuous growth as a leader. Go Beyond’s Leadership Institute is packed with relevant content and strategies to help you discover and develop your leadership competencies… expanding your impact and maximizing results as you develop and lead your high-performing team.