Lifezone Training
Year 2009
Year 2010
Year 2011

When Boss is your friend
as well (or vice versa)

When we work with someone who is known for years
 or over the years we become close to someone – then
 working relationships get challenging at times.

Monthly Newsletter

July 2010 Edition

When Boss is your friend as well (or vice versa)

  • Often we turn to our close friends to offer them the jobs as we know them better or we are able to work better with them. This in fact does back-fire on you at a later stage leading to fallouts, conflicts and/or bitter enemies.
  • One of my roommate years ago was approached by me for a managerial post in my company. During interviews it was uncomfortable when discussing sticky issues like professional success and failures, salary levels and increments etc. Most people want to keep such things separate from their friendship bearing in mind I would be his new boss.
  • After certain time many achieve both professional success and money but their relationship does change. Depending on personalities, it does continue on a amicable basis or ends up with a bitter taste.
  • We get into emotional territory when friendship is strong as ever as work unless you handle it like experts from the beginning. You need to acknowledge that there would be a change in your friendship. You must discuss the potential challenges in the working environment.
  • However there are odd friends I know who have really succeeded. They agree from the beginning that anything personal will stay outside the office. Both emphasise that they will take constructive criticism seriously and not too personally. You must accept to be treated no differently than other employees.
  • Most tricky situation is to ensure that the personality you work with does become accustomed to the culture of your organisation. This is frequently a problem as they feel privileged due to their link with their associate. This grants them certain amount of the freedom in behavioural terms and upset other members.
  • I remember when three friends were hired by me to work in a growing family-type business. One of them had a tremendous potential but kept bringing her personal problems to work. This was difficult to ignore as well as handle it because you need to be fair to others.
  • It was affecting her work and subsequently others too. I knew that dealing with this was going to be my most challenging task in my career. Nevertheless this had to be handled from professional angle.
  • I had to draw a line being in charge to ensure I was seen as a strong leader. Obviously she expected me to be sensitive to her personal issue because we’re friends. Even when I started putting it across gently as I could, her initial reaction was that she got offended.
  • Few days later she walked into my office to apologise and we openly discussed the matter and developed a plan of action which separated business from personal problems. This was tough but it was also a good lesson for her when she rose to top managerial level in latter years.
  • She and I – both learnt that before hiring or working with your close friends you must outline exactly what should be your behaviour and attitude in a professional environment. You must talk about keeping your personal affairs detached in work arena. Things that are done together outside the office hours can’t be brought into the office at any cost to maintain harmony and respect for each other.
  • Managing friends isn’t always easy and more difficult is when colleagues who have become more than friends who get promoted suddenly. When you become in charge of your friends or vice versa, there is a lot of resentment which creeps in. Nonetheless the newly promoted manager should outline the working requirements and conditions particularly if in charge of ‘friends’.
  • It is very important to point out that things will change and explain that it’s not because you want to end personal relationship. It is rather that you are required to become more professional and become a fair manager when in charge of a group of people.
  • You must emphasise that you still want to be friends and require their support. The point must be clarified that whatever happens at work – has nothing to do with your relationship. The friend subordinate needs to understand that the boss really can’t show any favouritism.
  • At most workplaces now, people start at a lower post and eventually rise quickly through the ranks to much higher status in short time. The modern management practices nowadays encourage us to create and be part of closed-knit teams. This helps people of different backgrounds and skills to bond together.
  • This is fine till there is a chance of promotion for everyone from within the team due to growth or promotion. In case, if you are triumphant in getting the promotion then the key to successful management of friends is to develop rules and boundaries as well as enforcing them.
  • For example, a ‘friend’ employee who comes in late should be spoken to appropriately. If same person is late again then a warning is issued and a third time it should result in pay cut or suspension etc. Your success will come from this uniformity implemented as of beginning.
  • Therefore if there is no structure the whole team will fall apart. It is vital to balance your two zones when at work in today’s climate.
  • Personal zone and Professional zone are both required at work. We need to be professional at the same time plus we need to show our human side – friendly nature.
  • Often we get support from others at work in a professional environment and as time goes we tend to become closer. We initiate into sharing personal information and end up getting into sort of warm or close association which intensifies on time.
  • However it backfires on you at a later stage and both feel hurt when theirs or your expectations are not met. So before you get your fingers burnt – just keep some distance and not to get too involved in things.
  • Golden rule is to balance your personal zone and professional zone – which will lead to building your creditability.

Managers in the air

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below.

 He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering
approximately 30 feet above the ground.

You're between 40 and 41 degree north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude. "

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am", replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is,
technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."

The woman below responded, "You must be in Management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems.

The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."









Copyright © Lifezone Training  
Designed by Bip Parmar

Course Schedule

23rd May


Power Spoken English

26th & 27th May


Successful 'O' Style Leadership

11th & 12th June


Successful 'O' Style Leadership

23rd & 24th June


Successful 'O' Style Leadership