Learn how to manage professional friendships


  1. Clearly define your new relationship
    Though you can still be friends with your peers, be clear that you’re now their boss. Set clear boundaries and expectations, and inform them that the nature of your interactions will change moving forward. Hold this conversation as soon as you’re promoted and listen openly to what your new team members have to say about it.
  2. Be aware of every move you make
    Be careful with the way you handle your subordinates, especially those you’re friendly with. Avoid giving them more time, resources, and support than subordinates you’re not close to as this may cause friction within your team. Instead, go out of your way to build high-quality relationships with all your staff members and direct reports.
  3. Treat everyone fairly, not equally
    Reflect on what “fair” means to you. Ensure that you treat each subordinate based on performance rather than favoring your friends. Also, avoid treating everyone equally as some subordinates will work harder and be more deserving of recognition than others.
  4. Be prepared to end some relationships and move on
    Accept that you may no longer be friends with some of your subordinates. Have that conversation and decide whether to begin a new relationship based on your new leadership role. If neither of you can adjust, then move on amicably without burning bridges.


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