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How would you respond to managing a friend who becomes a problem employee? If this is your first time managing, you may not even realize this scenario could come up. As a manager, there are heightened levels of responsibility and liability. How well you manage your employees impacts the company. What if your coworker feels they deserve the promotion more than you? The company is trusting you to have their best interest in dealing with employees. With coworkers and friends, there needs be a change in the dynamic. The change does not have to end your friendship, but there will be new boundaries. The relationship will experience a new normal.
Understand Your New Responsibilities
What makes things so different? One of the biggest changes as a new manager is to assess your employees’ performance. Someone can be a great friend and a great coworker, but might be a nightmare to manage. How would you handle that? Unfortunately about “60% of new managers don’t receive any training to help make the transition” from peer to manager (Talent Development). A key to transitioning from friend to Manager is setting expectations. A lot of these boundaries will depend on the culture at your office. Something that is acceptable at one company, might be prohibited at another company. Figure out what your new boundaries are and communicate them clearly with your team.
Be Aware Of Your Personal Liability
Each manager will have a different style on how they communicate. It can be easier to ‘level’ with your peers versus your employees. When you become their manager, there are new liabilities to be aware of. A manager was recently sued, alongside their company, for wrongful termination. A former employee claimed they were told to ‘improve her overall health and cut down on the days that she misses due to illness’”(Personal Liability). For any seasoned supervisor, this is an obvious example of inappropriate communication. For a new manager with lack of training, it could be a costly mistake. Ideally a company would prepare you for these new responsibilities and liabilities. Since this does not always happen, take the initiative to ask for training or guidelines. Seek answers for how to become a successful leader.
Don’t Miss The Opportunity
One of the greatest challenges and rewards as a new manager is how much you can influence the company. Leadership positions play a significant role in how happy people are at work. Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh wrote a book about Employee satisfaction. In the book he references Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory as key for employee happiness. The theory is that when “survival needs are met (food, safety, shelter, water, etc.), [people] are more motivated by other non-materialistic needs such as social status, achievement, and creativity”(Delivering Happiness). The amount of money an employee gets will not be why they are happy or unhappy at work. A manager’s impact is far stronger than employee salary. An employee loving their job relates to their sense of purpose. Do they feel like they have an impact and are making a difference?
Fresh leadership is important for innovation. New managers have an opportunity to develop talent and give employees a purpose. Optimize your access to seasoned leadership by asking a lot of questions. Communicate your intentions for your team’s future and how the dynamic will change. Having strategic direction allows you to be clear and purposeful in your actions. This is a change for them as well, so the direction will be a good stability and respected move as their new manager.
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