I was recently promoted to supervisor, a position I worked hard to achieve. The problem is now I am responsible for my "used to be" co-workers. A couple of them are very good friends. We would party every weekend, gossip about the people in the office and share just about everything. I consider them great office buddies.
During the job offer conversation, my boss mentioned she was aware of the close friendships I had with my co-workers. She said my role as a co-worker to supervisor can create problems. I was now their boss and I needed to always be aware of how I am interacting with everyone. The first sign of favoritism towards my friends would be the beginning of a breakdown of my authority as their supervisor.
I am now confused on what to do. One of my goals was to be the supervisor. I am aware of the increase of responsibilities and I am prepared and ready to take on the job. At the same time, I know my role as "weekend friend" has to change. My boss included examples: only going to lunch every day with only the select few would create perceived favoritism - something my friends and I always did; internal company conversations needed to be kept between leadership and supervisors; the possibility of having to discipline one of my friends. The list of what not to do has me questioning so many things.
I don’t want to lose my friends and at the same time I worked for this promotion and don’t want to lose this opportunity. Can I have both without jeopardizing friends and job?
Dear Sad Supervisor,
Congratulations on your promotion to supervisor. I agree it is a challenge to draw the line between people who were your co-worker friends to now your staff. Unfortunately, your new role will impact your relationships. Included with the increased role as supervisor you are now responsible and liable for the performance outcomes of your staff. This can sometimes get sticky if one of your “friends” needs to be counseled. Your staff is always aware of what you say and how you handle every situation. It is important you maintain your authority because your staff now represents you.
I recommend you have a heart-to-heart conversation with your weekend buddies. Explain to them your concerns. Collectively there may be an understanding and possible solution. They need to be aware of your new role and responsibilities. You will be required to make decisions they may not always agree with. I hope your boss will continue to mentor you through some of the trials and tribulations of being a new supervisor.
You obviously have what it takes to fulfill the role as supervisor. It is a critical role in any organization, and you earned your place. There will be times you are pulling your hair out and times you will be sharing accomplishments. So, hang on to your desk because the ride as supervisor is challenging and rewarding.