From colleague to manager: How to change roles in your company

Going from being a respected employee to taking on a leadership role is an exciting milestone in your career. But it's also a challenging transition that involves significant change, new skills and a shift in mindset. Even if you've achieved success as an employee, it's important to realize that moving into a leadership position with managerial responsibilities requires a deep understanding of leadership principles and practices. It's no longer just about performing your own tasks, but also about guiding and inspiring others to achieve common goals.

One of the biggest challenges of transitioning from employee to manager is establishing your authority and being respected as a leader by former colleagues. You need to find the right balance between maintaining good relationships while exercising the necessary decision-making power and responsibility that comes with the leadership role. It's important to be aware of these challenges in order to meet them and ensure a successful transition from employee to manager. 

In this article, we'll explore the challenging transition from colleague to manager and give you concrete steps on how to successfully switch roles in your company.

We'll dive into topics such as establishing your new role and authority, developing communication and leadership skills and managing changing relationships with former colleagues. The aim is to equip you with the necessary knowledge and essential tools to become a skilled and respected leader and succeed in your new role.

Also read our article 10 common leadership challenges for new leaders.

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How do you go from employee to manager? 7 tips for a successful transformation

The transition from being an employee to taking on a leadership role is a complex and challenging process. A clear, professional and structured approach is essential to ensure a successful transition. Below we have gathered 7 valuable recommendations and insights to help you navigate through the transformation.

1. Reflect on your new leadership role

Start by reflecting on your new role as a leader and the expectations that come with it. Identify the specific skills and attributes that will be critical to your success as a leader and be honest with yourself about both your strengths and areas that require development.

For example, read our article on leadership skills and learn more about the general expectations of modern leaders. You can also talk to your new manager about expectations and other topics you find relevant. If you're a manager with personnel responsibilities, you can also take a look at our article on personnel management here.

2. Adapting to the new role

Becoming a leader - especially in the same company where you were previously an employee - requires a new mindset where you accept that you are no longer part of the team, but have taken on the role of a leader. It's important to be mindful of what you say and do, as it now carries more weight and can be perceived differently. A good and effective leader keeps a certain distance from their team so that employees don't think or feel that the boss is playing favorites or prioritizing based on personal issues, but that everyone is treated fairly and equally.

3. Invest in your professional development

Leadership is a continuous learning process and it's important to invest time and resources in your professional development. Take part in relevant courses, workshops or training programs that focus on leadership skills. 

LEAD offers a wide range of courses and training in leadership, process management, recruitment and retention, psychological work environment & well-being for leaders and much more that can contribute to your growth as a leader.

4. Build relationships and alliances

Establishing good relationships is crucial as a leader. Connect with your superiors, colleagues and employees and build positive and trusting alliances that can support you in your new role. Show interest in their perspectives, be open to feedback and build trust. Also, be proactive in building a strong network of mentors and experienced leaders who can guide and inspire you in your new leadership role.

5. Establish your authority and communicate clearly

As a leader, it's important to establish your authority and ensure that your employees respect you as a leader. Be clear and consistent in your communication and decisions, be mindful of your actions and create an open and transparent culture where expectations and goals are clearly defined. Also, actively listen to your employees and empathize with their perspectives. 

Establishing a good feedback culture in the workplace can be very rewarding for all parties, and while it's on everyone's shoulders to succeed, it's the manager's job to facilitate and lead the way with effective feedback. 

6. Empathize and listen actively

While it's important to establish authority, as a manager, you need to remember that it's not about authority in the old-fashioned sense, where employees were afraid or unwilling to share concerns and joys with their boss. 

As a manager, it's crucial to show empathy and understanding towards your employees. Actively listen to their concerns, ideas and feedback and show interest in their development and well-being. Create an environment where employees feel seen and heard, and be willing to adjust your approach to accommodate individual needs.

You can read more about wellbeing at work and job satisfaction in our articles on the topics.

7. Develop your leadership style

Identify your own leadership style and continue to develop it. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader and make sure to adapt your approach to different situations and employees. Be flexible and open to new ideas and perspectives and continue to learn and grow as a leader. 

Read more about leadership style in our articles on personal leadership and people management.

Remember that the transition from colleague to manager is a continuous process where learning and development is essential. Be patient and committed to your own learning, seek support and guidance when needed and continuously evaluate your own performance as a manager. By following the above tips and recommendations, you can strengthen your transition from employee to manager so that you succeed and thrive in your new role.

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