Q: I recently just got a promotion and now all my friends are under me. It’s hard telling them what to do or to follow the rules. How can I balance being their boss and still maintain our friendship?
A: This can turn into a touchy situation rather quickly if you’re not careful about how you establish yourself in your newfound leadership position.
First and foremost, you have a responsibility to your employer and you should place that above all else. If you were deemed worthy of the promotion, then you need to rise to the occasion and do what’s expected of you.
If this job is something you view as a long-term career, then you need to approach it as such, regardless of your relationships with those under your watch.
Professionalism dictates that you draw a clear line in the sand between business and pleasure.
I would highly recommend that drawing said line and making absolutely sure that your friends know where it is be your first order of business. When doing so, be friendly and fair, but keep an air of formality and firmness about yourself when doing so.
It’s very possible, depending on how close you are with these friends, that they will try to take advantage of the relationship and adopt the mindset that, since they’re tight with the new boss, they’ve got a free ride through the work day.
This could very easily see you lose, not only your new promotion, but your job entirely. It’s rare that a friendship is more valuable than your own personal and economic stability; especially if the other parties in said friendship are willing to walk all over you and your authority.
That said, there’s no reason for you to go on defense either. Make sure that you’re careful to not throw your weight around or go on anything that could be seen as a “power trip.”
The quickest way to lose the respect of your employees, along with their friendship, is to make them feel like they’re beneath you.
There’s a huge difference between a boss and a leader. Be a leader. Get down into the trenches and be someone they would willingly and enthusiastically follow into battle. You and your friends have each other’s backs outside the workplace, so there’s no reason you can’t do the same while on the clock.
It might seem hard to find at first, but middle ground does exist here.
Remember to always be upfront and honest with your friends at work, just as you would at home. You’ve earned their respect by being the awesome person you are, so wear that badge to work as well.
Sure, you’ll have tense moments, you’ll have conflict and you’ll probably even want to wring necks from time to time. But these feelings will pass and true friendship will win out everytime.