BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN FRIENDSHIP AND LEADERSHIP

Relationships are important, particularly at work. There are proven benefits of having friends in the office – both for you and your performance. And ultimately, no one want’s to spend 8 hours a day with people they don’t like!

Watch our video below or carry on reading …

In the early days of a business it can be a great way to establish culture. Employing your friends or family is often an easy way to ensure the people you work with ‘get’ you and the culture you’re trying to create.

But professional relationships can become just as complicated as personal ones, that’s even when friendships aren’t involved!

The workplace never stays the same for too long. Since changes are always happening, relationships and team dynamics may need to adjust accordingly. Even if these changes are positive you will have some people on your team that simply struggle to embrace them.

For example, if someone has been in their role for a long time you may even be faced with a “I don’t want a promotion”. This usually isn’t an indication of how they feel about your business, rather an adversity to change which can easily be overcome if dealt with in a positive way.

Meet our team member. She is the type of employee that we describe as “The One Who Doesn’t Like Change”. Her adversity to change makes it hard for her and her team to progress.

he’s just been promoted into a managerial role, which is great… But she’s finding the whole process a bit daunting, which is completely normal! Progressing in a career can often bring up questions such as how do I manage someone I’ve been friends with for years? How do I get them to respect my authority and take me seriously? What if they end up hating me? 

If this seems all too familiar (whether it’s familiar to yourself or a member of your team), we’ve got a few tips to help the transition…

Here’s the good news. It is possible to maintain good relationships AND be a good manager. In fact, utilising existing relationships can in fact improve your management skills. However, it will involve changes in workplace dynamics which some employees can find hard to swallow (particularly those averse to change!).

Here are our top tips for helping uncertain employees transition into management. If you as the business owner have discovered it’s time to up your management game too these may also come in handy…

First and foremost you are now responsible for guiding the team towards achieving your goals. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity and guess what, when your employees already like you this makes it a lot easier. Your success as a manager will be based on your ability to engage your peers, making sure they are comfortable collaborating with you as a leader. So, if you’ve already got a great relationship you’ve really got a great advantage.

When making the transition from co-worker and friend to manager, the biggest challenges usually include:

  • Avoiding favouritism/preferential treatment (or perceived favouritism)

  • Establishing authority

  • Preventing work life from affecting personal life

So how do you overcome these? There are a few simple tools you can use:

Set clear expectations about roles (and how they may change)

Once your colleagues realise that your role has changed the working relationship should usually evolve naturally. However, to help things along clearly communicate to your peers what your responsibility is now, and explain to them that you’re now held accountable for the performance of the team (so they might have to accept you nagging them from time-to-time). Set boundaries during work hours that help you be an effective leader, and if you want to continue socialising with them outside of the office establish some ground rules. Leave office talk in the office… Soon you’ll realise talking about work is quite boring anyway and you’ll wonder why you ever did.

Make sure you don’t blur the lines

If you want your peers to treat you like a manager during work hours, act like one. While it’s fine to be their friend on occasion during office hours, try not to cling on to it. Ultimately, if you don’t want your team to blur the lines between you being their friend and being their manager you have to do the same. We know it’s tempting to send them that video of a dog playing the piano but trust us, it’s better saved until after work.

Treat everyone fairly

When it comes to rewards, bonuses, promotions and resources be sure to leave all personal biases aside. If your friends deserve them, and it’s documented, great! Don’t avoid it for fear of being accused of favouritism. You may even find that you treat your friends a bit more harshly than others – just be aware of this too!

Deliver on your promises

Coming up through the ranks you may have identified a few issues you want to change or ideas you want to implement. Perhaps there were pain points or roadblocks that you and your coworkers frequently complained about together, and vowed to change if any of you got the chance. Now that you are in a higher position your team will be excited for these changes to happen… So make sure they do! If it turns out that these changes are harder than originally thought, make sure the team know how you are actively working on it and establish the pace of change. As a friend it is important to remind your team that you haven’t forgotten the issues they face. As a manager, it is important they are reminded that you are still on their side.

What to do if you fall out?

There is always a risk when employing friends or working with friends that you may well fall out.  Whether this be about business or work related issues, or outside of work stuff. The key is to be honest and deal with work issues professionally. If you’ve fallen out about an out of work issue, everyone is better off if you just leave it at the door.

Every situation is unique and should be treated accordingly. If you have found yourself in a tricky situation and need a hand don’t hesitate to give our experts a call! For more insights you can also find us on Facebook or Twitter.