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From Friend to Boss

So a great new position came your way – you are officially a manager! Since you’ve mastered the skill set required for your current position becoming a manager should be a natural move.

However, the title and responsibilities of manager isn’t always sunshine and roses. New managers have to supervise direct reports who were formerly peers. Instead of focusing primarily on maintaining their own specific technical skills, goals, and deadlines they have to manage those aspects for others.

In other words, one day you are playing golf with your buddy, and the next day you are now his boss at work.

In a perfect world, it would be great to be both a boss and a friend. But the reality is that you and your former peers may no longer be friends in the same way. Instead of being on the same level, the promoted individual is now in a position of power and authority.

Change at any level can create uncertainty and confusion, but if you develop a game plan, the shift from friend to boss will be easier. Consider these following suggestions.

Set clear expectations. By setting expectations early on, you will avoid a misunderstanding later. A major function of managers is to ensure team members understand how their jobs relate to the organization’s goals and objectives, and to set team-level goals that are challenging, measurable, and meaningful. Ask for input from the team and ask them to identify key changes that would improve the department’s functioning.

Don’t play favorites. Just because you are now the boss does not mean you have to completely distance yourself from your coworkers. However, if you’re reluctant to discipline someone for fear of what it would do to your friendship, then the ties you have with that person will prevent you from doing your job. Focus on developing strong relationships with each member of your department.

Gather feedback. If you worry you could exhibit any type of favoritism, gather feedback from those around you. Candid feedback on one’s management competencies gives the new manager clarification on their role, as well as what behaviors need to continue, be stopped, or be changed.

What’s your advice about the transition from friend to boss?

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