When you've been promoted over - or hired - a friend, it's important to know that your relationship will change. The good news is, that change can be positive for you and your business.
As a new manager, or a manager of a small company, you may eventually find yourself leading people who have been your peers or friends. But now, you are now influencing their work lives and judging their job performance. It can place you at odds with them, but with a little effort, your friendship and new working relationship can also help your team and your business.
Being a member of management changes things, and some former friends may allow their feelings about the company to color their feelings about you. That's especially true when you have to make decisions they don't like. While some may resent your position, true friends will understand your situation.
The situation is particularly difficult if you have just been promoted into a management job. So, early on, set new boundaries with former peers and show you are a leader deserving of their respect. Communicate your expectations to all of your team members, and follow through by holding them all to the same rules, regulations and standards of performance. To preserve the unity of the team, treat employees who were friends before you became their supervisor the same way you treat everyone else. Avoid favoritism, but also avoid being overly harsh in an effort to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
Before implementing any new ideas, processes or other changes on your team, review each staff member's personnel files, performance history and action plans, and hold one-on-one meetings with each of them. To begin to establish your credibility as a manager, discuss areas you think may need to change and some of the changes you are considering. Solicit their thoughts, and respect their opinions, even if your conclusion doesn't agree with theirs.
Talk to each employee about his or her performance history and ambitions. Ask how they think you can help them succeed. In the same way you can't manage successfully without understanding your manager's expectations of you, your employees can't succeed without knowing what you expect of them. Former peers, especially, will need to know where your stance as a manager may differ from your stance as a peer.
If you treat your staff - including former peers - with respect, you will be more effective as a leader. Leading is about vision and sharing your vision with others. It's about being persuasive and making others feel included in setting and owning goals. Calling upon your friends' natural desire to help you succeed can help you build your team and accomplish those goals.
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