Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When You Become Your Friends' Boss

Find out how to keep your friends when you become their boss.

Sure, a promotion is a cause for celebration. But if your advancement up the corporate ladder puts you a rung above your former peers, don't be surprised if their words of congratulations are tinged with anger, envy, or even mistrust.

How should you handle it when your new position turns your office mates into your underlings? According to Val Arnold, senior vice president of the Minneapolis consulting firm Personnel Decisions International, begin by recognizing that relationships with coworkers will inevitably change. And keep in mind that your colleagues' reactions--whether jealousy or joy--may have less to do with you than with the new role you're taking on.

While your work friendships won't quite be the same, you can and should try to preserve them. Organizational psychologist Harry Levinson, Ph.D., strongly encourages new bosses to extend a hand to employees. "A simple thing to do is bring your colleagues together and tell them that although you're pleased to be promoted, you don't want to lose old friends," Levinson says. Describing the duties of your new position and privately explaining what you expect of each person can prevent misunderstandings and alleviate tension.

But rather than rule with an iron fist, new bosses should assert their authority gradually. Asking employees for their input when problems arise will help them respect you, and your increased authority, more easily.

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