Relationship Building at Work When Your Colleague Becomes Your Boss

Business Communication 18th November 2016 Candice D'penha

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What an awkward situation it is to be in when your peer becomes your boss, is it not? You’re quizzed. You don’t know whether your relationship will change or not? Or will it benefit you because you were friends first? Whether you will continue to go out for drinks or will they maintain a distance because they’re your supervisor? Should you act differently? Far too many questions to find answers to, right? Well, the first thing you should do is stop worrying and obsessing about it. It is still possible to have a cordial relationship without letting the awkwardness take over.

Accept the change in professional equation

The two of you should acknowledge the change in professional relationship and that you have every intention to establish a healthy equation. They are now in charge of your performance and will evaluate your contribution in the team. Earlier you may be going out often for dinner or drinks, but they may avoid that because they’re new to being your boss too and probably not sure on how to handle the situation with immediate effect. Step into their shoes and give them space to figure it out. It is quite possible that things go back to normal once you’ve tuned to each other’s expectations at work. Just make sure you don’t assume things won’t change.

Related: Ways to Foster Collaborative Environment at Work

Demonstrate your trust in them

Aware of the idiom ‘elephant in the room’? Well, if you don’t talk about your changed relationship then it will obviously affect you both negatively. Discuss and set a tone to your new working relationship and how you’re both going to support each other. Tell them that you’re open to any kind of feedback and will do every bit to continue working as you would have under any other boss. This will help clarify their doubts as well and they will explain their expectations too.

Fight feelings of resentment

It is natural to be upset and think that it should have been you who should have been promoted. Your sense of worth may deplete, but that’s not the way to go about it. Deal with change instead of resisting it. Show that you’re not letting ego come in way of your career. Express your interest in working with them. Stay positive.

Related: How to work with Colleagues with Conflicting Opinions

Be rational and don’t judge them

You will end up judging their actions if you don’t accept their new role in your career. Think about it this way: they earned their way to the top. They must have done something right to deserve their current position. When you start comparing, the bias is naturally going to be towards yourself. Think rationally and don’t jump to conclusions. Their way of handling a team and perceptions or decision making ability may be different than yours and so not necessarily wrong. If you have objections, voice your opinion. However make sure you’re not doing it only because you are jealous position of authority.

Related: How to Constructively Handle Criticism at Work

Stay away from gossipmongers

Some employees may want to play the card of rivalry between the two of you. It’s best to stay away from them and not let them brain wash you. Whenever you come across such people who complain about the new boss and their ways, just steer out of the conversation or drop hints that you’re positive about the changes being brought about. The more you stay away from controversy and gossip mongers, the better it is for you. Besides such people only toss gossips around and you don’t want to be a victim of their ploy.

Remember that navigating this change isn’t going to be easy, especially if you were their competition. But, you can minimize its effect on you and eliminate weirdness from creeping into your cordial relationship with your former colleague. Change is constant, isn’t it? Also, building a healthy relationship is the key to preventing future fall outs.


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