Dear Classy Career Girl ~ Supervising Friends:
DEAR CLASSY CAREER GIRL: “Any ideas on how to navigate the changes in co-worker friendships when you move into a supervisory role? “Friend” tends to create the connotation that I will protect you from reprimands when you err badly or even from termination, which I just can’t do. I had to terminate an employee and he literally thought that because we were friends that he was safe. It’s really difficult to retain friendships when you are someones boss. Do you just stop trying to have those friendships or only have friendships with those on the same level or higher than you? -SUPERVISOR WHO WANTS TO BE LIKED
DEAR SUPERVISOR: Congrats on your promotion! My advice is to keep your relationship as normal as possible. If you change how you treat someone, they will think that you are too important for them now that you are their supervisor. If he/she is a true friend, they will be happy for you and will not try to take advantage of this situation. Your friend was completely wrong to think that because you were friends with him, he would be protected.
It is very important to be as close friends as possible with your employees while at work and at work events. You must get involved in your employees lives and learn about their kids, husbands, parents and hobbies. Trust me, if you work for a boss and they don’t try to become friends with you, you will quickly start searching for someone else to work for. If you are friends, you will be approachable and you will find out sooner about issues and concerns because they know they can trust you. They will also work harder for you and help you manage the team because they like you.
For the time being, I would focus on the benefits of being friends with those you supervise. You already know them and hopefully you know that you can count on them. If you can’t count on them, you need to have a conversation with them and let them know that you need to take your new job very seriously and just because you are friends, they need to work just as hard as the next person.
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