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Moving from Peer to Boss

Moving into management

When you move from being a technical professional to being a manager, you’re likely to face several challenges — especially when it comes to dealing with your former peers. Not handling this situation well can cause tension within the team and lead to an unproductive work environment.

Cody is an ambitious programmer at a telecommunications software company. He’s outgoing and gets along well with his teammates.

When the team leader leaves, Cody is promoted to the position. This raises issues among some of Cody’s former peers, whom Cody now manages.

See each of the team members to learn about their issues with Cody.


Emily, a senior programmer on the team, is furious that she seems to have been overlooked for promotion to the position of team leader. She feels that her experience and knowledge make her better qualified to lead the team, and she resents Cody’s promotion to the role.


Danny was a great supporter of Cody — helping him settle into the team and standing up for him. Shortly after becoming Danny’s manager, Cody scheduled a meeting to discuss his perceived lack of quality in Danny’s work. Danny feels betrayed by a friend. He also thinks that Cody has become arrogant now that he’s in a position of authority.


As Cody’s closest friend on the team, Rick is used to confiding in Cody about personal issues and about other people on the team. When Cody takes over as team lead, their communication changes — it becomes more formal. And because Rick knows Cody so well, he tends to show a lack of respect sometimes.

How would you advise Cody to handle these individuals?

Well, you could advise Cody to accept that his relationships with his former peers will have to change, in light of his new role. You can also advise him to circumvent personal issues by focusing on what’s good for the business.

Furthermore, you can give him tips on how to establish his authority, and advise him on how to encourage a climate of openness within the team.

As you transition into management, you can use four strategies to help you establish new relationships with former peers. Acknowledge that relationships have to change; focus on what’s good for the business; establish your authority skillfully; and encourage a climate of openness.