By Anthony Record
July 17, 2019
Promoting from within to a position such as practice manager is often the best option for a practice. You save the cost of a lengthy job search, and end up with a person who is already trained in how your office operates.
As much of a benefit to the practice as promoting from within can be, it comes with challenges to the person who has been installed in the higher-level position. Newly promoted employees may have to adjust to managing people who used to be their peers, in addition to mastering new skill-sets and becoming more of a troubleshooter than they are used to being.
Here are six tips for you and your newly promoted employee to keep in mind:
Do not wait for problems to occur – be proactive
In any leadership position it is more effective to try to avoid a problem (proactive) than to deal with a problem (reactive). Have a conversation with the employee to let them know they have the support of the practice owner to deal with whatever problems and insubordination that might occur.
Give assurance that if Karen, Bob, Tracey (or anyone else) comes to you for rule variance, vacation rescheduling or petty complaints, your response will be, “You need to see Virginia about that. She is the new practice manager, and I count on her to handle these issues.”
Hold an informal meeting as soon as possible to discuss boundaries and expectations
It is at this meeting that Virginia should acknowledge all of elephants in the room (and by the way, the practice owner should also be at this meeting – as an observer – to show that everyone is on the same page.)
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Perhaps the boss should even say, “Karen, I know you and Virginia have been friends outside of the office. It remains to be seen if you can maintain that friendship and still be effective in your new roles here. Bob, if it were me, I would feel a bit uncomfortable with someone as young as Virginia being my boss, but you need to know she has my full confidence. And Tracey, I know you were in the running for this position too, so I’d like to discuss privately with you why I made this decision.”
Act like this is going to be a positive situation – be enthusiastic
Recognize that there will be some sensitivity; be ready for that. No amount of pro-activity will erase the normal human resentment that some of the newly promoted co-workers will feel toward their former peer. Be consistent. Keep the practice’s best interest paramount in your decision-making. But for the first few weeks, know when to look the other way.
Focus on benefits to the other employees of a former colleague as boss
Newly promoted employees shouldn’t promise more than they can deliver, but it might be appropriate to remind the team that now that they are in a leadership position, they will be the other employees’ biggest ally in the practice. Now maybe the newly promoted employee can help fix some of those problems all the employees used to gripe about in the lunchroom. Perhaps (and only if it’s true) the newly promoted employee can inform Tracey that if she cooperates, the new boss will advocate for her advancement when the practice opens the new office across town next year.
Newly promoted employees should assure the staff that previous personal relationships will be maintained with a couple caveats:
a. What goes on outside the office is out of bounds for discussion at the office, and vice-versa. There will be no outside-the-office discussion of work items or employee issues.
b. The rules will apply to everyone equally. That means everyone – including the newly promoted employee’s best work friend, Karen. She knows she is a member of this team just like everyone else, and she knows she will not be given special treatment. She will not be held to a higher standard either, and she will not be held back if she excels. There will be an equal playing field for all.
Have you struggled to manage and give guidance to newly promoted employees? What have you found to be the best way to handle this situation?