Navigating Friendships in Management: Overcoming Challenges with Old Friends at Work
Updated: Apr 2
Being promoted to a management role can be a challenging experience, especially when it comes to dealing with old friends who are now your co-workers and subordinates. While it's important to maintain friendships and personal relationships, it's also crucial to establish clear boundaries and expectations in the workplace.
One of the biggest problems first-time managers face is managing old friends who may have different expectations of their relationship. While it's entirely acceptable to remain friends with your co-workers, it's important to ensure that your personal relationships don't interfere with your performance or influence your decisions as a manager.
For example, avoiding showing favouritism towards old friends or treating them differently from other employees is essential. This can lead to resentment and undermine your credibility as a manager. You shouldn't try to overcompensate your personal relationships by being overly critical or holding your friends to higher standards. It's important to hold everyone to the same expectations regarding behaviour, performance, and accountability.
To effectively manage old friends in a new role, it's essential to establish clear expectations from the start. This can involve setting boundaries around how you will work with all team members, whether or not they are old friends. This can help create a sense of fairness and consistency within the team and prevent potential conflicts of interest.
It's also important to recognise that your new role as a manager may put a strain on your old friendships. As a manager, you have different responsibilities and obligations than you did as a co-worker. This can lead to misunderstandings or even resentment from your old friends if they feel you are not giving them the same level of attention or support as you used to. It's important to communicate openly with your friends and let them know that while your relationship may be different now, you value their friendship and support.
Another challenge of managing old friends is the potential for gossip or drama within the team. As a manager, it's important to remain neutral and not get involved in workplace drama. However, staying unbiased is challenging if you have a close friendship with someone on the team. In these situations, it's important to remember your role as a manager and to handle the situation professionally rather than letting your personal feelings get in the way.
It's also important to recognise that your role as a manager may require you to make tough decisions that may affect your old friends. For example, you may need to give constructive feedback or even discipline an old friend if their performance or behaviour is not up to standard. While it may be difficult, it's important to handle these situations objectively and not let your personal relationships get in the way.
Maintaining personal relationships and friendships in the workplace is important, but as a manager, it is crucial to set clear boundaries and expectations. This helps you effectively manage your team and create a positive and productive work environment. Managing old friends can be challenging, but with clear communication and professional boundaries, you can maintain strong relationships while being a successful manager.