How to balance being a buddy and a boss
We spend at least a third our adult lives working with colleagues. Over time, many close-knit friendships are formed. You move from the professional world to the personal. You ask questions about the soccer games of your children and share your personal struggles. It’s as natural and natural as breathing.
As they work together to overcome obstacles and face challenges together, being part of a team brings people closer together. This works, as long as your career paths do not drastically change your responsibilities or roles.
Many of my closest friends, whom I still keep in touch with, were once colleagues. How do you deal with suddenly being in control of your friends? The person who sex with you last week and knows your deepest secrets, and has seen you in embarrassing situations, suddenly reports to you.
After a promotion, how to manage the tension
You must be aware of how you interact with your team members if you are going to lead them. You can’t always rely on friendship when managing people. There is a balance.
Many newly-minted leaders find themselves in this awkward situation and choose to go to one of two extremes. Either they try to distance themselves from their friends and forgo all personal contact, or they keep the friendship going as if nothing ever happened. Both approaches are wrong.
People who give up control and act above others who were once on the same level as them will lose respect and love from their colleagues. You can’t stop being friends with your closest friends because you have a successful career.
On the other hand, those who lack managerial distance will find themselves in a team that doesn’t respect them. You don’t have to hold them responsible when you were just there last week to see the big game. They could do almost anything and you wouldn’t fire them. Friends don’t fire one another, it is true. This type of thinking could compromise your authority.
How can you keep your friendships strong while being a driving force for team improvement and productivity? The sweet spot between these extremes is found through honesty, consistency in evaluation, and openness.
Why you can’t be the best friends
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t be friends and ignore the fact that being promoted to management changes the nature of your friendship.
You can create a perception of favoritism among your closest friends if you are leading a team. You can’t allow people to think that you are just helping a friend and that they don’t have any chance of advancement or growth. To grow in your career, you don’t have to be a part of a “club”. Your entire team should know that you will award career benefits to the most qualified employee, not the person who shares your past.
You will have trouble letting go of your feelings if you feel an emotional connection with an employee. Your friendship shouldn’t affect your decisions about raises or layoffs. If they do, you should be ready for potential lawsuits and employee turnover in the future.
You may be more open to letting someone you manage get away with more than you would the rest of your team if you are good friends. This will be obvious to your other employees and could lead to resentment.
Both of you may have unrealistic expectations about what should be done in friendship. This could make it difficult for you to maintain a working relationship. Your job as a manager is to evaluate your employees. This is not always something friends enjoy. Your friend might feel that you wouldn’t discipline them.