The First Time Manager – how to deal with the ‘friends’ thing

Whenever I do First Time Manager Training one of the most common things that comes up is what I call the ‘Friends’ thing.

So what often happens is that you are really good at your job and you get made up to supervisor of your team.

The problem is that you are now in charge of people who were once your mates and now you have to boss them about.

Not had any management training?

Normally people get promoted to manager with no training, mentorship or coaching and then one of two things happen.

The first thing that could happen is that the new manager gets totally overwhelmed.

Often this takes the form of shrinking back into themselves and letting the team run riot because they don’t want to lose the friendships they have formed.

The second thing that may happen is that the new manager goes the other way (especially if they haven’t got a mentor) in that they go totally authoritarian and micromanage the team.

So what should you do?

How should the new manager approach the ‘friends’ thing?

The secret to managing your friends, and certainly my favourite approach is to deal with it head-on from the very first day.

You need to have a slightly awkward conversation but don’t worry you’re going to have much more awkward conversations than this one in your career!

Make time to speak with your friends individually and explain how you are feeling, that you don’t want to lose their friendship over a job.

Ask for help.

If they really are your friend then they will be only too happy to assist you with your transition into management.

Explain that you need them to help you to show the rest of the team that work is work and friendship is friendship.

Decide between you where the boundaries are.

Sometimes it’s worthwhile setting times, so, for instance, anything between 9-5 is work, anything outside this is personal.

Oh yes and ask your boss for management training. I know that I would say that being a management trainer so I’ll just say that there are some awesome training companies out there so get your boss to spring for a decent course.

What if they won’t help?

Well they’re not really your friend are they?

Sorry, but it’s a horrible lesson to learn that some people will just be jealous of your success and won’t want to contribute to your well being.

Frankly you’re well rid of them.

Hard but true.

You need to supervise people fairly and honestly but you also need to add this into your ‘life experience bank’.

My view is that you find out who your true friends are when you ask for help.

Want more management advice – why not check out how to run a 1-2-1

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