So your friend is now your boss…

… or you’re hers. Awk­ward! Here’s how to deal.

Glamour (South Africa) - - All about you -

When An­drea, 29, scored a big new ti­tle at her mar­ket­ing firm, she was ini­tially wor­ried about one em­ployee: her friend and for­mer peer Sara, 24. She was used to shar­ing de­tails about her dat­ing life with Sara. And Sara had reser­va­tions, too, now her con­fi­dante was her boss: “I won­dered, ‘Can I still tell her if I had a few too many drinks over the week­end?’” But both agree that their re­la­tion­ship has pros­pered. Why? “We keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open and we’re hon­est with each other,” says An­drea.

These two make it sound easy, but manag­ing (or re­port­ing to) a friend can be far trick­ier. Since it of­ten hap­pens – re­search shows that one in three adults meets at least one close friend on the job – we have ad­vice on keep­ing your bond in­tact.

Sce­nario One of you gets pro­moted.

If you’re the (new) boss

Cel­e­brate, then lay down some rules of en­gage­ment, says clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Ben Michaelis. Set a date to dis­cuss how you’ll sup­port your friend with­out play­ing favourites. Maybe you’ll de­cide she can vent to you but not ask you to cover for her while she sneaks out for a man­i­cure.

If you’re the staffer

Feel­ing knee-jerk jeal­ousy? Dr Michaelis sug­gests re­al­ity-check­ing those emo­tions. “Of­ten peo­ple re­alise the po­si­tion wouldn’t have been right for them any­way,” he says. And use ver­bal boundaries to clar­ify your role, he ad­vises. You could say, “As some­one who re­ports to you, I think X but as your friend, I’d ad­vise Y.” Then your boss-friend can de­cide which per­spec­tive she wants to hear. Sce­nario The con­ver­sa­tion turns to com­pany gos­sip.

If you’re the boss

Dr Michaelis sug­gests say­ing, “You know how much I value your friend­ship, but out of respect for our work re­la­tion­ship, I can’t talk about that.”

If you’re the staffer

Fo­cus on points of con­nec­tion beyond of­fice gos­sip. “If you can’t, there prob­a­bly wasn’t much to your friend­ship to be­gin with,” says Dr Michaelis.

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