Your Friend Now Works For You. What Do You Do?

Posted on August 10, 2011.

It’s the elephant in the room, and it has the potential to throw your whole team off-kilter.Your best frend now works FOR you.

Just yesterday you were grabbing beers together, going to the gym or having a girl’s night out. Now you’re her manager.


What do you do?

Often, the first natural inclination is to deny, deny, deny. You know, treat the new hire like a stranger you don’t even like or, worse, ignore them entirely.

Not the way to go. Assuming your friend is a good performer, they’ll likely quit, and your friendship may be damaged. Instead, have a private meeting at the office with your friend and lay the ground rules for how you’ll interact professionally, covering these three points:  

  • Assert that when opinions from the group are solicited, your friend’s vote is the same as everyone else’s.
  • Emphasize that unsolicited feedback given before is now inappropriate and that their thoughts are now only welcome when asked for. This won’t be easy. The one thing that friends-turned-employees love to tell their boss friend is how to do their job.
  • Stress that while you want to maintain the friendship, everyone from the office will be invited if you go out during the work week.

Underscore the discussion by making it clear to the rest of the group that you will not play favorites, and establish protocol for how work and leads will be distributed. Be sure to keep close track of this so it can be referred to if you’re held accountable later.

The key is setting the tone right away.  Though it’s a difficult situation, it can be handled successfully with both your friendship and your role as manager intact.  Just remember, if your friend fails to support you, they weren’t really a friend!

Need more advice? You can ask us a question on the Ask Cindy & Laura page, or you can put your question to the Manage Fearlessly community at-large and hear what they have to say.