Managing Your Peers

When I was training “new” managers, one of the questions that I asked to help me understand the audience was “who is now managing the team of their peers?” My very first supervisor role was managing my peers! I looked for those folks that were kindred spirits so to speak. Why? I wanted to share my experiences! Managing your peers is not as simple as managing others. There is so much more that “new” managers will encounter when they are managing their peers.

I asked those folks what they were experiencing that was difficult for them to deal with? Many of them commented on some of their peers did not acknowledge that they were the manager. This is something that I experienced as well. It normally comes from one individual that was interviewing for the position that you got. They really feel like it was their job to have. How do you move forward? I sat down with that individual and highlighted that our working relationship was nothing short of difficult. Acknowledged that I know he/she had applied for the position too. I had to ask, “are you willing to work together moving forward?” Putting the person on the spot sometimes is not a good thing, but with this particular situation, you have to. Make sure to listen! Really listen. Make sure that you document what you both agree together on to move forward. Make sure to follow-up with he/she in your next discussions. Reinforce the positives and ask what you can do to improve the relationship.

I then would ask, “what are you afraid of?” Almost every person was afraid of appearing “bossy.” No one likes a bossy manager. When we all were peers, we would point out the bossy folks. Worrying about being bossy, can definitely put you in a difficult situation. The one thing that you have to really be aware of, is you maybe not communicating like you should. I liked to include my team in setting expectations, how we would measure success and set up an environment of working together. I would always stress that, I would say and do whatever is necessary to meet our mutual expectations. If one of the team is not performing, then I could come across as bossy, but my intentions are to help achieve our goals. You are the manager. You are accountable to others. You have to do the tough stuff. Nothing personal, it is just business.

I have always told my trainees that being the manager of your peers is a difficult situation. Not everyone is sold on your as the manager. You have to work harder. You just have to be the best person that you can be.