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When you are promoted you belong to another tribe

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Roger Quinn ▼ | November 22, 2012
Manager One of the toughest situation you can find yourself in is when you have to manage you ex co-workers. That can be harder than any competition, crisis of product failure. Fortunately, speaking from our experience, with a small change in behavior your life can be much easier.

We all strive to do more, to accomplish more, and to win that higher position. To be able to achieve that we work in teams, more or less tight, even if we are lone wolves. With time, we learn to think as a team member and that brings many good things: we learn how to deal with people, how to cooperate with others, and how to think about the team first and about ourselves later.

However, being a team member for a long time also has a big drawback: we can easily forget how to work on our own and that can be a big problem after the promotion to the higher position. Promotions do not happen just like that but when it happens you must change your behavior just like that. At once. Immediately. Or you will sink.

We were lucky enough to work with great experts and great people and to learn firsthand what happens after the promotion. Your co-workers were at the same table with you yesterday, today they are not.

Their cars were next to yours; today they are hundred feet away. Communications changes from "Yo! What's up?" to "Hello, Sir, how are you? “ To the true team player the whole world seems upside down. When asked why they are not sitting next to us after the promotion, our friends said "You are a manager now, we are not. That's the way things work." And that was the best advice we could get.

When you are promoted, you belong to another tribe and you should change your behavior as soon as possible. From that moment you are in charge, you're the one to make decisions; you have a responsibility that surpasses just one team. You should think about your ex co-workers but there are also other teams, board above you, mangers below you, corporate policy, cost management, business intelligence...

To put it short: you don't have time to sit down with your team and talk to them like you used to do. If you do that, your co-workers will know that you are not ready for your new position.

Now, we are not saying that you have to be arrogant, stop saying hello to your colleagues or something like that; try to think that you came to a new company. As a manager, you delegate, you make decisions and your employees are reporting to you. Period. You don't solve their problems, you don't care about their priorities, and you are not part of that world any more.

We must admit that's a hard thing to do - after all, you may spend years as a part of one team before you are promoted - but that's the only way. If you can't accept that you are the boss with different priorities in corporate life, well, you are not a managerial material. And when you start to act like a manager you will be surprised how good the communication with your ex co-workers is.

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