Supervising close friends rarely works because the dynamics of the two relationships contradict one another. Friendships are based on mutuality. Friends reveal intimate secrets to each other and make themselves vulnerable. This completely contradicts the relationship of a manager and employee.
Managers are in a superior-subordinate relationship with employees. It is not possible to simultaneously be a person’s superior and be his peer. Ultimately, your friendship or your ability to supervise will suffer. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, the average job lasts about three years. A good friend lasts a lifetime. Good employees are hard to find but good life-long friends are even harder to find, so don’t hire your friends.
The situation differs if you developed a friendship with coworkers who were previously your peers, and you’ve recently become their supervisor. After-hours social outings are now different. If you regularly went out with your coworkers in the past, don’t stop altogether. This will be too abrupt and they’ll think becoming a manager has gone to your head. Start pulling back slowly by periodically finding an excuse to decline invitations. On the nights you do go, leave early so they can have fun without the boss. Once you become a manager, you’re not one of them any more. Don’t fool yourself into thinking differently.
Glenn Shepard is a speaker, coach, and author in Nashville, TN. This article is excerpted from his book “How to Manage Problem Employees: A Step-by-Step Guide to Turning Difficult Employees into High Performers”, available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. He also publishes a free weekly newsletter at http://www.Glenn-Shepard.com