Relationships at work aren’t always easy, and navigating your way around a promotion, which has seen your status elevated above your old colleagues, is perhaps one of the toughest. Atlantis The Palm’s senior vice president of human resources Gerard Moss, shares his views on how to manage this shift in power.
What’s the main challenges of being your old colleagues’ new boss
A particular issue that may surface is envy. Colleagues may be dealing with internal disappointment. It is important for the individual who has been promoted to understand that this is not personal. He or she must meet with the concerned person on a one-to-one basis, get a sense of where they are, and let them know how important it is that all the team is celebrating with him or her.
The transition from peer to superior can pose challenges in terms of the team adapting. Perhaps they are used to spend time with the promoted colleague, complaining about what is wrong with the organisation and its leadership. But now the colleague is part of that leadership and it is imperative that he or she is taken seriously as their leader – and must subtly make that distinction known. For instance, they might have shared bad habits which may have to be addressed by the new leader.
Getting peers to take you seriously in terms of giving them instructions and delivering on time can be challenging too. The new manager must get used to managing by objectives and setting clear expectations and deadlines.
Being a good manager isn't about being everyone's best friend, so how can a new manager maintain good relationships and keep a professional distance?
Business is about relationships and networking. There are certain boundaries that you would not cross with a client and the same goes for an employee. An effective leader establishes and maintains these boundaries. A great manager understands how to set goals and how to hold his team accountable. The manager must not blur the lines of a professional relationship. Managing by objectives is the key to being successful.
When it comes to discussing personal problems, managers must be very careful. You should not over-share personal and private matters, but it is important to discuss some challenges that you may be facing both at work and outside of work. This is what keeps the relationship real and organic.
Is extra sensitivity required in the UAE due to so many different nationalities in the workplace? Are there behaviours that certain cultures find inappropriate, for example?
A heightened degree of awareness is important and a certain degree of openness is necessary to thrive in the UAE. This country welcomes employees from over 150 nations, and at Atlantis our nationality mix of 82 different countries is very much representative of this melting pot of ethnicities. We are all experiencing culture shock to some extent since we are expatriates, and because of this there is a greater degree of tolerance for each other.
One must be conscious of personal space and unnecessary body contact and touching – which some people find offensive and intrusive. This may seem simplistic, but we should also avoid talking politics and religion in the office, especially with people who we do not know very well.
In different cultures, various questions and topics of conversation are acceptable. There are varying degrees of tolerance, but we must be aware colleagues from certain cultures are naturally more secretive than others. They have a smaller degree of trust and you must assess what is private and personal and share positive experiences. It is about building a rapport. For example, the beauty of going into the office space of a colleague, is that he often displays his hobbies on the walls and on his cupboards, so this is an appropriate conversation starter and a good way to get to know what that person holds dear.
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