When a friend becomes the boss, the power shift can bring on strong emotions and conflict.
To avert problems—and to save your friendship—keep emotions out of the way and focus on strengthening your new professional relationship:
• Realize that you are equals as friends but not as professionals. The promotion will change the way you treat each other in the office.
• Be first to set feelings aside and step up to the plate. Ask to discuss how the change will affect your working relationship. Pose questions such as: “How should I treat you?” “How can I expect you to treat me?” “How will we deal with any conflict?”
• Remind yourself that the change is not about you personally, so don’t waste energy on feeling envious or lashing out. Instead, use the opportunity to grow as a professional; focus on being more flexible and patient. Your goal: for both sides to gain a new level of respect for each other.
In The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss, Louise Jordan, a public relations executive, talks about striking a balance between a work relationship and friendship in the office: “I do think you can have a friendship with your boss; it doesn’t have to be all business all the time. I mean, we are all human. But there just has to be an understanding that there is a boss-employee boundary that you can’t cross.”
Finally, keep in mind that your new “boss” needs to show impartiality when dealing with your team. Help her do her job by not expecting preferential treatment.