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Moving From Being a Friend to Being a Manager

Three Best Practice Steps to Set Up for Success!

Managing individuals who used to be your peers or your friends can be a nerve-wracking experience! It is essential to establish credibility and authority early on, while simultaneously not leaving the impression that the promotion has “gone to your head.” It is a delicate balancing act!

Consider these best practices for moving from being a friend to managing people:

  • Set clear expectations and boundaries between friendship and managing people. This includes being consistent and fair in how you treat everyone who reports up to you.
  • Be aware of how you interact with and engage with those who used to be your friends and new individuals who report up to you. Do not appear to be playing favorites among your staff simply because you know one person longer than another.
  • Work closely with human resources to provide you the support needed as you begin to establish yourself in a new manager role. They can often coach you to ensure you are successful.

Be honest with yourself if you have relationships to mend. For example, consider this scenario:

Abigail was a peer with Jack, Samantha, Allan and Simon. She was friends, however, with Samantha and Allan and often had lunch with them or went out for drinks after work. During their time working together, there were a few times when Abigail would have lunch with the two of them and complain about their boss and decisions made. Abigail was often the originator of these complaints. Also, there were a couple of times when Abigail complained to Samantha about Jack and how she didn’t like having to work with him on projects. As for Simon, Samantha complained a number of times to her friends – Samantha and Allan – that she just didn’t like Simon and had no respect for him. All of these comments would come back to bite Abigail when she was promoted to supervisor of the group.

In the scenario above, Abigail will need to repair her relationships with Jack and Simon. Additionally, she really needs to address her unprofessional behavior overall with Samantha and Allan. It will be difficult for Abigail to be credible as a boss given her remarks about her boss and her comments about co-workers. Abigail will need a plan for how she will address possible perceptions of her ability to lead effectively based on past actions and comments.  Certainly, she may want to be proactive and address her past comments. An honest conversation with someone in human resources can help Abigail decide the best approach to take.

You can avoid Abigail’s situation. Be professional always in the office environment. Just assume eventually you will be managing those individuals with whom you are now peers.

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