How to manage former colleagues?
Publié le 03 May 2023

How to manage former colleagues?

Becoming a manager is a very rewarding step in your professional career. However, it can also be a real challenge, especially when dealing with former colleagues. Indeed, it can be difficult to find the right balance between the friendship developed and the authority that you must now exercise as a manager. In this article, we give you our advice on how to manage this delicate situation, highlighting the skills and attitudes necessary to help you succeed in your new role as a manager.

The challenges of managing former colleagues

The Challenges of Managing Former Coworkers | Reactive Executive

Managing former colleagues is a delicate situation that raises several important issues in terms of interpersonal relations and leadership. Indeed, the pre-existing personal relationships between employees, the management of potential conflicts and the preservation of balance are all challenges that managers must take up.

Pre-existing personal relationships

In a mixed team, the members often have pre-existing personal relationships, such as friendships, family, or even romantic relationships. While these relationships may initially seem advantageous for team management, due to familiarity and knowledge of each other’s personalities and abilities, they can also make management more complex. The manager must be aware of these relationships and this hierarchical change, in order to be able to treat each employee fairly and impartially, while respecting the existing personal ties.

Managing potential conflicts

Pre-existing personal relationships can also lead to conflicts between employees. Indeed, personal relationships can create delicate situations, such as frustration from subordinates, preferences or discrimination. The manager must be able to recognize these potential conflicts and resolve them quickly and effectively before they become major issues. This may involve individual or group discussions, coaching sessions or other conflict resolution techniques.

Maintaining team balance

Maintaining a balance is a crucial aspect of managing a mixed team, especially when it comes to former colleagues. It is important that each member feels valued and respected. The manager must be able to create a balanced work environment in which each employee can contribute significantly and feel comfortable. This may involve performance appraisal for each member of the team or even during a simple informal exchange.

How to effectively manage former colleagues?

When you are promoted to manager, it is often difficult to make the transition from colleague to manager. Indeed, your former colleagues may have difficulty seeing you as a legitimate and competent manager. So, to succeed in this new position, it is important to develop technical and behavioral skills that will help you manage a team .

3 Tips for Successfully Managing Former Colleagues

3 Tips for Successfully Managing Former Colleagues | Reactive Executive

Although you can’t improvise as a manager, it is still possible to lead a team of former colleagues thanks to solid legitimacy , clear communication and good cooperation. By emphasizing the importance of these three elements, you can ensure that everyone’s perspectives, skills and backgrounds are used to their full potential.

  • 1) Adopt the right skills and attitudes

It is essential to demonstrate your skills as a manager and establish your legitimacy to excel in this new role. This involves providing clear guidance, relevant advice and constructive feedback. It is also important to be consistent and fair in your decisions and actions, and to always remain authentic and aligned with its values.

  • 2) Establish clear and transparent communication

Communication is the key to successful team management . In a mixed team, it is even more important to establish clear and transparent communication. The manager must ensure that each employee understands each other’s expectations, objectives and responsibilities. It is also important to favor individual exchanges with new subordinates, personalizing the message and remaining attentive, to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

  • 3) Foster collaboration and cooperation

Good cooperation creates a climate of trust and mutual support within a company. It is necessary for a manager to promote collective decision-making, giving everyone the opportunity to express themselves and actively participate in decision-making.

The pitfalls to avoid when managing former colleagues

When managing former colleagues, it is easy to fall into certain pitfalls that can harm the working relationship and the effectiveness of the team. The most common pitfalls are:

  • favoritism,
  • Difficulty exercising authority and making objective decisions
  • The lack of clarity,
  • Being a toxic manager
  • Not giving constructive feedback
  • Mismanagement of emotions.


All in all, managing former colleagues can be a tough challenge, but with the right management strategy, it can be a positive and rewarding experience for the whole team. To ensure a successful transition, a healthy professional relationship and improved business performance, it is important for the manager to understand the differences between their old role and their new managerial role, to facilitate the transition by being patient , understanding and respect, and to avoid common pitfalls.

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