4 STEPS TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE YOUR FRIENDS AFTER YOUR GET PROMOTED OVER THEM
You’ve just been promoted to manager. Congrats! But that also means that your co-working peers were not promoted, and your old boss-bashing friends are now your subordinates.
You suspect they are going to snicker and gossip about you behind your back. And in truth, they probably will; but there are some key things you can do to make the best of the situation and position yourself as an effective manager and leader. This is important because your approach to this challenging situation can “make or break” your success in your new position.
One option is to let your fears of what they think about you and what they might say about you to others, chase you all day and haunt you all night. Not good!
Another option (the better option) is to address this potential issue head on. Don’t worry, it’s easier thank you think.
Below are four steps to minimize their resentment, anger, or negative energy, and maximize the chances of them actually doing a great job as your subordinate, and in a way that doesn’t ruin friendships. Handled properly, this approach will give you the legitimacy and authority you require to be effective.
Step 1: Put It All On The Table
In your next regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting you need to “lay your cards on the table” by telling your friends of your fears and concerns, and do it in a genuine, heartfelt way. Talk to them about your worries of being the target of boss-bashing, of your concern that you might lose them as friends, your thought that this is the barrier that will cause failure in your new job.
Then tell them what you wish things could be like in a perfect world. For example, you might actually use the words “My hope is that you understand.” Or “My hope is that this doesn’t happen.” “My hope is that I am good in this job exactly because I know what it is like to be a step below.” Then simply ask them to support you in your new role by directly asking “Will you support me?” “Can I count on that?”
Step 2: Play a New Game
Once your cards are on the table you need to start playing the new game, and by this I mean you should start acting a little differently by “leaning into” your role as a manger. Assume the role, act like a manager, and be professional and focused.
This can be uncomfortable at first, but not taking this step will keep everyone constantly backsliding to the starting point. Doing this is easier than you think because all that is needed is that you shape the edges of your relationships with professionalism, and firm courtesy.
If you struggle in your new role at first, that’s OK. You can say things like “This is new to me, but I need to take my ‘friend’ hat off and put my ‘boss’ hat on.” Or you might say, “The friend in me hears where you are coming from, but I need to push the ‘manager’ button and say that yada yada.” These word pictures of “hats” or “buttons” allow you to segue into the new game, if needed.
Step 3: Check On Your Teammates
After a few months, it will be time for you to directly ask your team for feedback. Not of you as a friend, but you as a boss. Do this in a formal meeting, not over coffee or drinks. As with all effective meetings, tell them ahead of time what the meeting is about. Explain that you eagerly want their candid feedback about how you are doing, and about how you can improve.
A word of caution – your feelings might get hurt. So be prepared for that. Remember, you value the opinions of those talking to you, and feedback is intended for growth not loss.
Don’t get defensive. Don’t get mad. And don’t play the “well…but” game. If you need to vent after hearing feedback, do that with a trusted friend (external to your organization), and then straighten up and move on with positive action. Change your behavior based on what you hear and what you think is appropriate and acceptable, keeping your priorities in mind.
Step 4: Let The Chips Lie
This step is about “staying the course” as a manager. At this point you should continue the approach outlined here, and repeat steps 1-3 as needed. Do your best, gather their feedback, adjust as necessary, and be firm when needed. If they are undermining your authority or talking inappropriately about your performance or are badmouthing you to others, then they are being neither a team player, nor a friend. If this happens, it’s your job now to provide them this feedback in their performance evaluation. You might even say, “As both a supervisor and a friend, I’m disappointed.” They will respect you for your candidness and likely change their behavior.
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Dr. Natasha Ganem is founder and director of Lion Leadership, a consulting firm that helps private and non-profit companies with managerial and leadership training, strategic planning, and organizational effectiveness. She is primary writer for the ROAR blog at www.ImTheLion.com where readers gain perspectives on themselves, their organizations, and how to reach their potential at work.