Career advice

Making the transition from colleague to manager

Moving from colleague to manager can be fraught with challenges for nurses. Kathy Oxtoby looks at how to make the transition as seamless as possible. 

Moving from colleague to manager can be fraught with challenges for nurses. Kathy Oxtoby looks at how to make the transition as seamless as possible 

The banding system under Agenda for Change can provide nurses with clear career progression, but it can require careful negotiation to move from compatible colleague to respected manager.

Every time nurses move to a new band ‘they need to consider how they would make the transition from being a peer to supervising their peers’ work and delegating tasks’, says RCN careers adviser Julie Watkins. 


But a lack of opportunity to gain managerial experience can make it difficult to make the move from colleague to manager. ‘Band 5 nurses may not get the opportunity to act up,’ suggests Ms Watkins. 

She says nurses can show employers they are capable of making the transition by grasping opportunities, such as covering for senior colleagues and carrying out audit work. 

‘They should also look to lead projects because employers will want to see examples of a nurse’s leadership skills.’ 

She recommends taking courses, such as a mentorship course approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and the RCN’s clinical leadership programme, aimed at bands 6 and 7. 

Trained nurse and midwife Ann Griffin-Aaronlahti, managing director at international nurse staffing agency Professional Connections, says making the transition from colleague to manager can be challenging.

‘You’ve been friendly and part of a team working at the same level, then you have to leave those friendships behind for the good of patients,’ she says. 

She adds that each time nurses are promoted, they are likely to have ‘one foot in their old job and one foot in their new job'. But to move into a new role successfully, it is important ‘to be decisive and visible to your team, offering a helping hand if needed.

‘It is also essential to remain polite, professional and courteous with your team despite the stresses you may face in your new role,’ she says. 


Some colleagues might be resentful when a member of their team is promoted. Ms Griffin-Aaronlahti suggests that, before moving to a new role, nurses should be aware which members of the team may have difficulties dealing with their colleague’s promotion. 

‘They will know the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and should work with them on their strengths,’ she says. ‘This approach will benefit the team and, importantly, the patients.’ 

Another advantage of knowing your team is that you understand the issues they face at work and can help provide support, but don't be afraid to make changes. 

‘Don’t be afraid to change your team’s tasks,' says Ms Griffin-Aaronlahti. 'But base any changes on their strengths and weaknesses. This way you can boost team morale and gain respect as a manager.' 

Kathy Oxtoby is a freelance journalist 

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