A promotion is a cause for celebration but that doesn’t mean it won’t come with its share of challenges. Transitioning from a team member to a team leader comes with additional responsibilities. It also means fundamental changes in the nature of interpersonal relationships. Fortunately, there are some steps that smooth over some rough edges in that transition as you make the move from peer to manager.


One-on-One Meetings

One-on-one meetings provide an ideal opportunity to establish some new norms. Provide an overview of where the team could potentially go under the new management, and ask for thoughts or suggestions about that. Provide a clear opportunity for team members to express any frustrations they have, such as being passed over for the promotion. This helps clear the air of lingering resentment and lets everyone start fresh. It may also provide some insight into how to better utilize team members for your new team goals. Also, make it clear that any close friendships will need to be toned down to avoid unfair treatment.


Establish Some Guiding Principles

The new leadership comes with an opportunity to establish new guiding principles. This can prove an excellent path for cultural course correction. If the team has been historically dominated by one or two aggressive voices, make it clear that the team will adopt a more collegial attitude. Note that all ideas will be heard to completion and discussed. It’s not enough to make the statement, though. Take action during meetings to enforce that principle.


Don’t Make Immediate Structural Changes

New leaders often decide that it’s time to offload some dead weight from a team. While it is an understandable desire, it can backfire and leave everyone off balance. Spend some time working with the team as it stands. Take a pass at encouraging more productive behaviors from all team members. Only when everyone has seen a clear stock-taking and effort will they accept big structural changes with understanding.


Transitioning from a team member to a team leader isn’t always smooth sailing. It calls for changing relationship dynamics and principles. Set the tone with one-on-one meetings, new guiding principles, and holding off on big structural changes. It’ll create a more accepting team culture and help keep everyone on an even keel.