Can you be a boss and a friend?
So you’ve been working at the church for a few years and doing a great job. Then you see an internal job posting for a supervisory or leadership position and you apply. You make it through the interview process and you’re offered the position.
Now you can’t wait to get started. After all, most of the people know you and they’re excited for you. But what happens when the people that used to work alongside you are now reporting to you. If you don’t think this changes things, think again.
When everyone is doing their job, leadership is easy. It’s not difficult to give someone encouragement when they’re doing great. But if they’re not doing what is required of them, it’s up to you to let them know and hold them accountable. This can be difficult regardless of what side you’re on. After all, you’ve been friends for several years.
If you were outside of work and your friend was heading down the wrong path, would you let them? If you were really their friend, you would pull them aside and try to help get them back on the right path. And why would you do that? Because you care and you hope that they would do the same for you.
So what makes this so much more difficult in the work environment? Chances are your friendship developed at a peer level and now they work for you. This doesn’t mean that you still can’t be friends. It means you will probably have to work at it a little harder. The last thing you want to do is show favoritism towards your friend. Your friend definitely doesn’t want you to be tougher on them to make your point with everyone else. There has to be a balance.
The reality is that prior to you becoming your friend’s supervisor you would have said something to them if they weren’t doing their job anyway. So why wouldn’t you do the same for them now? After all, aren’t you still friends? Nobody ever said that leadership is easy. But it doesn’t always have to be difficult. If you care for those under your leadership, then you care for them during the good times and the not so good.
Does this mean you have to be friends with everyone that works for you? No, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have friends that work for you either.
Mike Klockenbrink is chief of staff at Lakeside Church, Folsom, CA.