Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

How do you manage people who are your friends too?

jaysonsmom

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2004
Messages
3,139
I'm in a tough situation, and would appreciate any kind of advice. In the past 5 years, my company has grown significantly and I have been promoted a couple times, where I'm now considered senior management. A lot of my peers now report to me, but they are people I go to lunch with daily, and invite me to their baby showers, and kids' birthdays

Here lies the problem. They still consider me their "friend" and I appreciate that... but I have a hard time laying down the law. When my boss (SVP) is traveling, people in my group start coming into work really late (up to an hour late) and they don't apologize or explain anything to me, because they assume I'd be okay with it. Well, I'm not. I feel like there is no respect for me. Also, when I catch stupid mistakes on documentation, I have a hard time pointing out the mistake and reprimanding the guilty party because once again, we are friends and lunch buddies. I need help on where to draw the line. Do I stop treating my staff as my friends, and stop going out to lunch with them? What is a healthy balance. What can I do to command respect and make my expectations clear without losing these friendships (if possible)?
 

MissGotRocks

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 23, 2005
Messages
12,174
Perhaps you can enjoin your boss into helping you - particularly with the late arrivals. Maybe she can put out a memo stating that everyone will be docked leave for all late arrivals/early departures. If she is not there to report the leave to, then they must report it to you. It must apply to everyone - including yourself - across the board. It will seem harsh at first and there will be plenty of moans and groans but it will be fair to all and not leave you in a bad spot.

As for the mistakes, you have to address these issues with your subordinates - friends or not. Remember, you are being paid to do a job and that includes overseeing the work that is done. You might ruffle a few feathers and you may jeopardize some friendships but it is what you are being paid to do. I can appreciate your position but the longer you put off asserting yourself in your new role, the harder of a task it will be to tackle. You leave yourself open to being called on the carpet for not spotting or attempting to rectify mistakes that you see being made. Be gentle but firm and if you feel the need, explain to them that you are not criticizing but merely doing your job. If done with a respectful tone, I think they will eventually understand that in the workplace, job performance has to come before friendship.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
33,781
That is a tough situation and I am sorry you are dealing with it.

I know you were friends with them before your promotion (and congratulations on all your promotions btw getting you to this point) but this is one of the main reasons not to become friends with people you are managing at work. Of course this was before you were in this position so not criticizing you at all and in a perfect world we should all be able to be friends with whomever we want to be. Just commenting on the fact that it is indeed a sticky situation and no matter what I fear feathers will be ruffled.

Sure I can say good friends and true friends will understand and when you are at work your work relationship comes first. Ethics dictate that one should not take advantage of one's friends and the personal relationship one shares with the person in charge to derive unfair benefits from said relationship. If that makes sense.

However many people would and do take advantage of that personal relationship at work and that's not right. HA, I saw it with my former clinic chief. He brought some of his friends in with him to the clinic and gave them positions there when he became chief and absolutely gave them unfair advantages and better treatment. However IMO that was mainly on HIM and not them because he was the one who allowed and even perhaps encouraged that unfair work behavior. He is no longer chief of the clinic by the way.

I agree completely with MissGotRocks. When you are at work your job performance and theirs comes ahead of your personal relationships with your employees. You can do it as nicely as you can but when push comes to shove business is business when you are at work. I know you will continue to be respectful but you will do what you need to do to have your employees do what they are expected to do just as if you were not their friend. And if your friends have a problem with that I will go as far as to say they are not good friends and perhaps that "friend" relationship needs to be rethought. Think about it if you were in their position and they were in yours. I bet you would be accommodating and not take advantage of your friendship. And it is not cool or OK if they do.

Just realized I didn't really give you any useful advice on how to go about this. What I would do? I would talk to each of them one by one in a quiet and calm environment and tell them honestly how I feel about the situation. How I value our friendship and work relationship too and want neither to suffer. And when you are at work you expect professional work ethics and not to let your friendship get in the way of that and when you are not at work your friendship comes first. But at work you need them to understand that your friendship relationship has no bearing on the work relationship at all and to please see it from your POV.

You know, you worked hard to get to where you are today and you don't want to jeopardize that in any way. A true friend will get that and not push the issue. And if they don't their friendship is not worth having. IMO.

Good luck!
 

Alex T

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
4,962
I feel you pain here & wanted to chime in, as the same thing happened to me many moons ago.

I started working as an admin clerk in my first job, fresh from education etc. Within 5 years I had become the Department Head, managing a total of 62 staff, including my friends that I had 'grown up' with over the previous years. We were lunch friends, travelled to big concerts & festivals together - it was tough to suddenly be in charge.

What worked for me was to literally lay down the rules of being in work. I made it clear in a group meeting that seriously, we all had a job to do & joking aside, we would all do those jobs to the best of our abilities & if that meant the occasional run in, bust up or disciplinary meeting then so be it. Some were taken aback, some distanced themselves from being 'social' around me, but on the whole it worked. Eventually everyone respected my position & the fact that I was now accountable for them. We very much worked as a team: I helped out & worked long hours for them, and they started to do the same for me. It was a mutual respect thing really. We still had the odd party & all work hats had to come off, but when back in the office those hats went back on. Many, many years later, I am still close to a lot of those buddies from back then, including one I had to sack for stealing. She hated me at the time & I cried tears after that particular incident, but work is work & we managed to get beyond it.

I hope you find a solution & good luck. Getting that sicky feeling in your tummy when you have to professionally tackle your friends is very challenging.
 

MollyMalone

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
3,074
Good morning, jaysonsmom :wavey: Before I offer anything, I'd like to ask a few background questions : how many employees are you now responsible for; are all of your subordinates the lunch-after work friends; what happened to the person whose role you have assumed & was the opening made known before being filled or were you promptly tapped to be his/her successor; is there a HR department; does your company conduct semi-annual or annual performance appraisals of all employees?
 

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,002
My true friends never crossed that line. If they ever did require counseling, they were usually quick to apologize for putting me in that position.


The people who did cross the line and thought they could get away with something and didnt like a reprimand weren't real friends. Those people were quickly eliminated from the friend pool.

I haven't worked in 13 years, but I have looked back on those years and reviewed many things. I regret that I worried so much about my personal relationships. First, because I am friends with exactly one of those people today, yes...just one. Second, because maintaining those friendships DID rob some of my potential.

There were times where I prioritized those friendships over my job. I regret doing so because those friendships weren't paying my bills and they certainly weren't getting me promoted.

If I were to do it all over again, I would have distanced myself from my staff and kept things very professional. If I did have friends, those relationships would have been maintained strictly outside of work hours.


Are you comfortable having an honest talk with your friends about this? Can you tell them you are struggling with counseling them, but there are times when you will have to do so. Can you tell them that you have to draw the line at work, but you hope that outside of work hours, you can be the same friends you have always been? A real friend should have the ability to handle this conversation.


I hope you can find a good happy medium between friendship and work. It is difficult! Good luck to you!
 

Arcadian

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,020
Sooooo I'm probably too blunt, but I call my friends out. Its a matter of respect. If they can't respect you enough to actually bother showing up and doing the job, are they really friends? A friend wouldn't put you in that type of position. When I've done work for friends I bust my arse because I appreciate the faith they have in me. But I'm maybe a different breed I guess. Its the reason why they have continued to come to me for jobs perhaps.

You should absolutely have "that talk" because its just not acceptable. After work, you can be "friends" during work, you're the boss and they should respect that fact. Anyone can be replaced, including you. And frankly I won't jeopardize my job because other folks are making me look bad.
 

jordyonbass

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
1,809
My wife has the same issue with her staff and I've seen how frustrated she can get, usually they're really good to her but every now and then they start getting complacent. Usually she'll call an entire team meeting when it starts getting out of hand and expresses her concerns with the staff but doesn't single out anyone for anything, afterwards she'll circulate a form where people will sign it acknowledging that they have taken onboard the info from the meeting. From here if it doesn't work and staff are still complacent then she will sit them down in private and express why the previous meeting was held and what she has seen with them since.
If you were to try this 2-step process and things don't improve from here then you need to reprimand the staff or refer it to your superiors if you don't have the power to do so. If you do then you've got 2 clear and documented occasions where you've addressed this problem and nothing was done about it by the staff member, you've got rights as an employer/manager then to do what you need to do to ensure your work is no longer compromised.
 

smitcompton

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
2,605
Hi,

First, I would not go to my boss to solve this problem. Sometimes the fear that you feel will seem foolish after you talk to the offenders. I would call each one into MY office and just simply say that you have noticed that when Mrs SVP is away you are coming in late. Please be on time in the future. Tell each person that you will follow up with a memo for the whole department.

Please don't accept excuses, be firm in tone, and don't linger after you have corrected your employee. This is not friendship time.

You'll feel good, and I doubt there will be any hard feelings.


Annette
 

jaysonsmom

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2004
Messages
3,139
MissGotRocks: My boss has my back, and we have tried having her lay down the law and having me as the enforcer when she is away. that didn't work. I think it reiterated the fact that she is "THE" boss, and I'm just her watchdog with no bark or bite!
I also feel that my delivery when I find mistakes in the work produced by my subordinates is overly-respectful and weak sounding. I tend to say: "Can you please show me how you came to this conclusion, because my results don't match yours?"

Missy: Yes, I should talk to each one on one, I only have 4 direct reports, and I should sit with each to give them my expectations because they are all very different, and the way they function and act are very different.

AlexT When my staff are loaded with too much on their plate, I always offer to help out in any way. This actually backfired, because if there is something they do not like to do, such as making calls to government agencies, they ask ME to do it. I end up feeling like their subordinate. But you're right, sometimes feelings will temporarily get hurt if I give them "the talk", but harboring resentment on my end is not a good either.

MollyMalone said:
Good morning, jaysonsmom :wavey: Before I offer anything, I'd like to ask a few background questions : how many employees are you now responsible for; are all of your subordinates the lunch-after work friends; what happened to the person whose role you have assumed & was the opening made known before being filled or were you promptly tapped to be his/her successor; is there a HR department; does your company conduct semi-annual or annual performance appraisals of all employees?
.
MollyMalone I only have 4 direct reports. We all hang out for lunch, and after work at times, because it is not a huge number. My company has expanded rapidly so there was no one in the role that I assumed. My boss went from having a group of 3 working in New Product Development (encompassing quality, regulatory, innovations and formulations) to over 20, so she now has appointed managers and directors to divide and conquer. I oversee regulatory. Yes, we have an HR department and it has grown exponentially in the past 5 years, and we are much more organized. We conduct annual performance reviews, and that just happened last month.

House Cat I am slowly trying to distance myself, and trying to show by example how I want things done. For eg, when they ask me to go to lunch, I would say something like: No, came in a little late this morning, want to catch up during lunch so that I can leave at a decent hour. Even though we don't clock in or clock out, I'm very diligent about putting in 8 hour workdays.

Arcadian Being direct is always better. I just need to work up the courage and get a script going so that I don't deviate from my firm expectations! Thanks for the encouragement.

jordyonbass this 2-step process is genius. a clear plan of execution that I can follow! Thank you.

smitcompton Yes, you're right. Time for me to step up and let my staff know who is boss.

Thank you all for such great advice so far. I'm just too much of a people person, and don't want to offend. End up wallowing in resentment, which is not healthy for me.
 

jordyonbass

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
1,809
No problem jaysonsmom! :wavey: It's probably the best way to still extend the friendliness with the co-workers but be taking an assertive path with discipline. Just make sure that on the second warning in private that you express the seriousness of it but that you don't want it to go any further than that meeting if it doesn't have to. They should understand what you are getting at.

Were any of these people personal friends before you started working with them at all? Hopefully not as that can make the situation even harder to deal with as professional courtesy can go out the window completely. I hired a friend at a pub I used to run and it didn't go so well; it started great as he did a lot of extra work and I felt like I had someone I know working for me who understood my business ethics and plight, however after about 3 months he'd call up to say he would be late at least once a week. Then he wouldn't even bother calling as he knew my wife or I would be in the bar until he got there (which was on our days off quite often) and was filling out his timesheet with extra hours. I gave him a verbal warning one day and he said he understood and would make an effort to get to work on time and would fill out his hours correctly, which lasted about 2 weeks. When I finally sat him down with a written warning, he got really angry at me and accused me of only caring about the business and not our friendship. That was the last time I ever saw him.
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.

New posts

Top