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Help! I’ve Been Promoted Over My Co-Workers


By Sonya Buck, Australia


It’s finally that time. One of the company Senior Executives calls you in to their office and offers you a promotion and you’ll be a Manager for the first time.


It’s Friday night and the way home your thoughts turn to the shiny new company car, your new office and the salary increase. That evening you celebrate with your partner or friends.  Good on you, you’ve worked hard and deserve it.


After a Saturday morning sleep in, you come to the realisation that your career has overtaken your co-workers, some of which are friends and you wonder how you are going to handle this when Monday morning arrives.


Here are 10 tips to get off on the right foot with your old co-workers:


  1. Don’t brag about your promotion.  Definitely don’t share your new salary – you shouldn’t share you salary in the workplace anyway, it just causes discontent.

  2. You may need to change your behaviour.  If you were hanging out gossiping or disparaging the management before, you‘ll need to stop.  But don’t alienate your old colleagues.  You can still catch up at the Zippy hot water heater and talk about the latest The Walking Dead episode.

  3. If you have now turned from a workmate to a Supervisor, ensure you acknowledge that some people may feel uncomfortable. If you recognise this is having a big impact on someone, ask for ideas on the best way you can work together.

  4. Allay any fears your old co-workers may have.  Remember you are the one who knows they pulled a sickie last week to go to the one day cricket.  If this is the case, tell them you’re starting a fresh from this day forward. 

  5. Be consistent.  Don’t be all matey one minute and military commander the next.  You might like to aim for something in between on this one.

  6. You might have socialised with some of your co-workers after work in the past.  It now may not be wise to knock back too many shots at the local pub and say or do something you’ll regret. Why not co-ordinate a different social gathering. How about a BBQ, an afternoon at the footy, lunch out or catching up for a coffee?

  7. Recognise your promotion may not be welcomed by some co-workers and they quickly forget your previous friendship or may even now brush you off.  This is a good indicator of how good a friend they really were. 

  8. As a new Manager, don’t make change for changes sake. Some new Managers just want to put their stamp on things.  This will fall flat with your old co-workers.  Give yourself time to settle in and see if change will really provide improvements or efficiencies.  Where appropriate, ask for your colleagues input on change.

  9. Put yourself in your co-workers shoes.  How would you feel if the situation was reversed? Make sure you listen to their questions or concerns.

  10. Remember you are only human.  This whole new relationship with your co-workers may take a while to bed down.


Major Tip:  There is a difference between being a Boss and a Leader.   As the name suggests, bosses order people around, love the power and punish.  Leaders are inclusive, value contributions, facilitate team work, offer encouragement and communicate effectively.  


It definitely seems a lot easier to be a first time Manager in a new workplace.  Keep in mind this is a big change for you and your workmates.  Not everyone one will embrace the change, but just concentrate being the boss you would like to have.