Congratulations, You have been promoted! A future of endless opportunities awaits and your hard work is finally being recognized.

As you celebrate your success and gear up to enjoy this career growth, one thing you must embrace yourself for is how to manage your former colleagues & peers.

While this may seem like a small hindrance, getting promoted over peers may cause some friction as you will now have to lead the people who were your friends and peers until recently.

With the changing dynamic, you must plan on how to establish authority without compromising your relationships with the team. If you are struggling to do that and are looking for some advice, we are here to help!

Read this blog to discover how to handle promotion over peers in 7 easy steps.

1. Speak with humility, act with strategy

This is the golden rule to handle promotion over peers. Staying humble is paramount in a situation like this as anything less than that may make you seem arrogant.

With strategy, you will be able to provide them with a clear picture of what they can expect from their future under your leadership.

Not only will this rule prove that you are a good leader, but it will also help your former peers, now subordinates accept you in the new role more comfortably.

Some steps you can take to do the same are:

  1. Articulate your plan for the upcoming quarter/year in detail to your team
  2. Schedule one-on-ones with all your direct reports and communicate with them, acknowledging the change and the steps you would take to make this transition comfortable for them
  3. Set goals for your direct reports individually and on a team level
  4. Discuss your plan of action and strategy to work together in the new power structure
  5. Being a leader does not always mean that you pave the way and others follow. Make sure you ask your team to share inputs and collaborate

2. Establish the right tone

The next thing you must focus on is setting a nice, comforting, but authoritative tone with your former peers.

As you prepare to assume the role of their leader, make sure your tone reflects this change and find an effective way to communicate with your teammates.

A good starting point is to communicate your strategy in the new role and explain how it would benefit the team. Doing so will establish you as the person in charge and will help your teammates recognize you as a leader with a plan.

  • Make efforts to set boundaries with your teammates because there is a decent chance that not all your peers will be comfortable with this change in leadership. If not handled the right way, your reportees may take you for granted, show a casual attitude, or take digs at your achievements.

  • Let them know that you are here to help them but that it is not okay to ignore your authority. Be open to criticism but make sure that there is a clear line between feedback and disrespect.

  • Always use an employee-first communication style in all your meetings. This will bring a sense of satisfaction that someone is looking out for them and may help with the discomfort they might be feeling with your promotion.

3. Avoid engaging in office gossip

As you prepare to settle down in your new role, the first thing you must eliminate from your routine water cooler gossip.

Colleagues in the same team may feel the need to rant and complain about work and their boss(es). But how will it work if you, their boss, join in on this conversation?

This does not mean that you must cut off from your peers, but the idea is to establish a healthy boundary and have limited casual conversations with your team.

While you may have been a part of an office gossip group previously, your new role will demand that you maintain some authority. The first step to doing that is to avoid engaging in casual conversations.

There are several reasons for this, some of them being:

  1. The gossip in a casual environment may backfire professionally
  2. As you engage in workplace gossip with a select bunch, the other teammates may feel ignored and find it difficult to identify you as an unbiased leader
  3. Casual gossip may lead to sharing of crucial information from closed-door meetings meant only for team managers
  4. It can affect your objectivity in making professional decisions
  5. Not creating boundaries may lead to the absence of your authority over your peers, which can be a troublesome scenario, especially while making difficult decisions.

4. Stay patient during the transition process

Change in leadership is always stressful for the team, but when a peer becomes the leader, things can get tricky for everyone, and jealousy may seep in.

As you enjoy this success, one thing you must prepare for is the critical situations that may occur, where your team may not take you seriously as their boss, or there are instances of disobedience, and general lack of acceptance of your new position.

All of this may sound stressful, but the good news is that these are all short-term problems. While sometimes ignorance can be bliss, there will be occasions where you will have to take action and establish authority.

Before you take any actions, assess which situation is which closely and plan your next steps accordingly.

As you find ways to transition to the new role, the others may find it hard to accept you as their boss immediately, and all this is natural.

So, acknowledge that it may take a while to build rapport and give them some time to adjust to the power shift.

The only thing you can do is prove your worth as their leader and find solutions for them, which brings us to our next tip.

5. Score a win for the team

The biggest plus of getting promoted over peers is that you know what your management lacks and how your (former) colleagues feel about it.

So, use this to your advantage and figure out ways in which you can help them achieve a win. All you have to do is make a list of challenges they face and try to solve them effectively.

Whether it is the lack of resources, their dissatisfaction with the management or something as basic as establishing a sense of work-life balance, helping them achieve a goal would bring you closer to establishing a positive rapport with your team.

Doing this will bring you in their good books and can be the first of many milestones for you to achieve.

6. Focus on working with the team

While promotions are a sign of success, you must remember that more authority comes with more responsibility, one of which is team management.

As you transition to a more senior role, make sure you focus on working with the team and not making them work for you.

Of course, delegation is key, and managers must know how to do the same, but discussing strategies with the team, considering their suggestions, and providing them a space to be vocal about their ideas can go a long way.

But show them that your emphasis is on working with them, not on them working for you.

7. Accept the change with an open mind

One of the oldest phrases that are relevant to every professional’s life is

It gets lonely at the top!

But that is no reason to feel uncomfortable with your achievements.

Before you focus your efforts on making this transition easy for your former peers, make sure that you are comfortable with this change.

Initially, it may get a little tough to accept the reaction of people close to you, or you may find it hard to balance your friendships and professional relationships.

But your promotion reflects that your superiors think you are capable of much more than what you were doing previously. So, accept this opportunity with an open mind and trust yourself to ace this phase. You have earned it!


Handling a promotion over peers is not always easy. As you look for ways to make this transition easy for yourself and your subordinates, the key is to be patient and give it some time for everything to fall in place.

Meanwhile, do not hesitate to open up to your former peers; let them know you are in this together and find ways to connect with them in a new capacity. We hope that this article offers you a few unique ideas and insights to make your transition into the new role easy.

Also read: 7 Things to Do After a Promotion

All the best!

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