New Supervisor Challenge: Supervising Friends
Effective supervisors know how to spot these types of challenges and quickly develop skills to overcome them. Regardless of the challenge, the primary objective is to accomplish organizational objectives. What this means is that even though personal relationships have been developed with friends, older/more seasoned employees, or a bond formed with younger workers, the supervisor must maintain a leadership perspective at all times.
This challenge is one of the most difficult for new supervisors to handle. Initially, there is an uncomfortable feeling of trying to balance friendship and leadership. It is not uncommon for new supervisors to deal with jealousy, resentment, and a bit of conflict from individuals who have been good friends and former peers.
Key factors in managing friends:
- Realize that there is a possibility the relationship may not continue. Discuss your balance issue of friendship vs. leadership and ask for his/her support of you in your new role.
- Avoid holding personal conversations at work. It creates the perception you’re playing favorites with friends.
- Hold a “press conference” with all direct reports to address issue of, “Although Dave and I are friends, our friendship does not affect the relationship we have at work while I’m his supervisor…” Handle the friendship issue proactively upon taking a leadership role.
- Be aware of the dangers in sharing the inside scoop with friends. Avoid sharing of leadership-only information-even if your friend presses you for the “inside scoop”… This is one of the most dangerous aspects of supervising friends and should be avoided at all costs! Leadership information is for leaders of the company only. If a friend continues to press for information, appropriate feedback must be given to stop the behavior.
- Handle conflicts with friends and don’t procrastinate. Issues must be resolved quickly to minimize impact to the business. Provide feedback immediately.
- Don’t use your friend by sharing your frustrations, concerns, etc. about the organization-even if sharing them after hours. This jeopardizes your credibility as an effective leader. Also, it creates an environment in which your friend is privy to information that may be of a sensitive nature.
–Natalie Ivey, President & CEO
Results Performance Consulting, Inc. – RPC
Natalie Ivey is President & CEO of RPC, (www.rpchr.com) a Boca Raton-based company that helps employers manage, train, and retain employees. Ms. Ivey is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and has more than twenty years of leadership and HR experience with Fortune 500 organizations.