How should I treat coworkers after a promotion?

By: Dave Roos
If you're expecting this reaction from your coworkers when you announce your promotion, you may be sorely mistaken.
Alistair Berg/Getty Images

You used to be just one of the guys (or girls), another cubicle slave reporting to the man -- until you got promoted. While the pay raise and new office are excellent reasons to celebrate, don't expect your old coworkers to bake you a cake. Your promotion is likely to stir up resentment, jealousy and flat-out anger from coworkers who think they're better suited for the job or who automatically equate management with "the enemy."

Managing workplace relationships after a promotion is challenging, but luckily there are some proven techniques to ease your transition from team member to team leader.


For starters, you shouldn't be the one to announce your promotion. Your boss or hiring manager should break the news to your coworkers. If other workers were passed up for the promotion, the boss should meet with each of them individually. In this meeting, the boss should identify the workers' key strengths and work with each of them to develop a clear career path [source: Lloyd]. The boss should then convene a larger meeting where you're reintroduced to the office in your new capacity [source: McIntyre].

Your first move as a manager of your former coworkers is to listen to them. Meet with each coworker individually and ask what they think is working at the company, what needs to be improved, and if they have specific ideas on how to implement those changes [source: McClain]. Take notes and share your sincere appreciation for their help.

When it's time to make your first management decision, don't shoot for the stars [source: Kelley Services]. Instead, analyze the suggestions made by your coworkers and find one simple change that everyone agrees will greatly improve productivity or morale. It could be something as simple as upgrading the copy machine or coffee maker. And remember, when you make the change, give credit to your coworkers by name [source: McClain].

But what if some of those former coworkers are also good friends? This is where things get really tricky. On some level, you have to separate personal relationships from professional relationships. This doesn't mean you have to stop hanging out with your friends altogether, but you must treat all of your team members equally and professionally at the office. Playing favorites not only undermines your leadership abilities, but can invite discrimination lawsuits [source: Society for Human Resource Management].

If you try all of these techniques, but still experience a lot of bickering and gossiping after your promotion, don't be afraid to address the issue head-on [source: Holloway]. Identify the disgruntled parties and hear them out. Honestly consider their complaints and take suggestions on how to ease tensions. By incorporating some of those changes, you can successfully diffuse the grumbling and get back to business.

For lots more information about office politics and adjusting to a new job, take a look at the related articles on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Holloway, Andy. "Boss report: Seven dirty little secrets about your soon-to-be employees." Canadian Business Online. April 24, 2006. (Accessed Sept. 1, 2010.)
  • Kelley Services. "Managing Your Former Co-Workers" (Accessed Sept. 2, 2010.)
  • Lloyd, Joan. Joan Lloyd at Work. "Tips for handling an employee who's jealous about coworker's promotion." (Accessed Sept. 1, 2010.)'s-jealous-about-.aspx
  • McIntyre, Marie. "My Co-Workers Resent My Promotion: How Do I Effectively Manage?" Business Management Daily. June 18, 2008 (Accessed Sept. 1, 2010.)
  • McClain, Gary and Romaine, Deborah S. "Managing Former Coworkers." The Everything Managing People Book. Everything Books, 2006.
  • Society for Human Resources Management. "What tips can we offer a recently promoted manager who has trouble making the transition from peer to supervisor?" (Accessed Sept. 2, 2010.)