Ask James: How do I get my colleagues to respect me as a manager?

Struggling to command respect in your new role?

In his monthly column, career coach and Chairman of, James Reed, shares his expert advice to help you tackle your biggest career concerns.

This month, James gives his top tips on how to gain the respect of your colleagues after a promotion…


The question…

Hi James,

I was recently given a promotion from staff member in a team of twenty to manager of the same team. This all sounds great, but there’s one problem. Since my promotion my colleagues have continued to treat me as one of the team and don’t respect my authority. I still want people to like me, but I also want to be respected as their boss.

How do I build a culture of respect within my team without alienating people?



The answer…


Hi Pheobe,

First of all, congratulations on your promotion. You were promoted to team manager because your boss recognised that you have the skills, experience and importantly mindset to succeed in the role.

However, as you have indicated, the transition from team member to team manager is not always a smooth one. Seemingly overnight your status within the organisation has changed, causing relationships with your colleagues to inevitably change too. You’ve gone from being one of the team to being the boss, but your relationships with your colleagues don’t have to suffer as a result. There are ways that you can manage your new team effectively without alienating them.

As a starting point, set clear expectations with people early on. It may feel awkward but it is important to gather your new team together and have a frank conversation with them, to establish your position as manager and plan how you will work together to achieve collective goals. You don’t have to be aggressive to assert your authority, but be clear that your working dynamics will have to change.

Accept that your behaviour will have to change too. It’s likely that if your colleagues vented to you in the past about other colleagues, work processes or management, they’ll continue to do so.

As a manager you’re expected to be a sounding board at times and to listen to their concerns, but avoid getting caught up in lengthy complaining sessions, or even worse – office gossip. If you see the conversation steering in this direction, politely excuse yourself. Your team won’t recognise your senior role if you’re willing to moan with them, and it’s likely to negatively affect morale.

It isn’t nice to think about promotion envy interfering with your relationships at work but of course it is a possibility and may cause some people in your team to challenge your authority. Don’t let this knock your confidence.

Remember the hard work that you put in to get where you are today.

You are now the boss and will be expected to enforce policies, conduct performance evaluations and solve issues in the team, so a level of separation from the team is required in order to oversee their progress.

Well done on your promotion and enjoy it, every new role requires a little getting used to.


Wishing you all the best,


How to: Get promoted

Ask James: What can I do to stand out and get a promotion?


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