Home' acuity : Acuity July 2014 Contents Office life
Real solutions to real problems.
Managing a friend
You have just been promoted and
one of your direct reports is a
personal friend. How do you manage
the tension between professional
responsibilities and friendship?
You can choose your friends, but you
can’t choose your workmates.
To maintain a relationship with a
staff member who is a close friend,
managers need to ensure that both the
personal and professional spaces are
given due respect.
1. Be seen to be even handed
One of the most challenging aspects
of managing a friend is to ensure other
staff do not perceive favouritism in the
Be seen to treat your friend in an
even-handed manner. This may extend
to limiting the number of lunches you
share together, or how often you have
a drink together after work. Avoid the
appearance of having an “in group”.
2. Establish professional boundaries
This boils down to three simple words
be the boss. The fact is, you are in
charge and you are responsible for the
management of your team.
Early on, explain to your friend
that your work relationship must be
guided by professional behaviour. If
your friend also takes a professional
approach, this will go a long way to
avoiding potential issues.
3. Handle grievances quickly
If you have an issue with the
performance of a staff member who
is also a friend, don’t stew about it or
try to sweep it under the rug. Raise
the issue with them and – if you have
established appropriate professional
boundaries – it should be possible to
deal with it quickly.
Transparency about the process
helps both you and your friend move
on where there has been an issue, and
ensures other staff see that there is no
favouritism in the office.
4. Accept criticism and venting
Employees complain about their
bosses. It is human nature. You are now
the boss. Get used to it.
That doesn’t mean tolerating
rudeness or bad behaviour in the office.
It is about respecting the tendency of
people to complain about their boss
when workplace stresses get to them.
5. It takes two to tango
Any relationship – professional or
friendly – will only prosper where both
parties to it behave with kindness,
courtesy and respect.
If you find that your friend puts
pressure on you to, for example, share
confidential information or discuss
workmates, tell them that you think it is
not appropriate and reiterate your view
of professional boundaries.
If that does not work, then one of
the two relationships may not survive.
You will not want to compromise your
professional responsibilities, and a good
friend will not ask you to.
Sometimes meetings ramble
seemingly without point. Other
meetings end with each attendee
convinced their view has won the
day. How can you get better value out
of time spent in meetings?
You are a punctual and conscientious
attendee at meetings, but you have
workmates, perhaps even a manager,
who fail to supply agendas till the last
minute, go off topic for long periods, or
tend to dominate the discussion. As a
result, meetings are seldom productive
and more meetings are required.
1. It’s about productivity
Ironically, one of the best things you
improve your meetings.
Set out a clear agenda to discuss
and agree meeting etiquette across
your team, and get buy in from your
colleagues and managers.
Often the issues which annoy you
will be annoying other members of
your team – while those creating the
annoyance may not be aware there is
even a problem.
Most people realise that effective
meetings improve team productivity.
They will welcome a plan that makes
life easier for everyone.
2. Confirm outcomes in writing
One of the most common problems
with meetings is people leaving with
different ideas of what was resolved.
Assign someone the role of secretary
and ensure that meeting outcomes are
written up immediately and distributed.
Not only does this keep everyone
on the same page, it also ensures
that misunderstandings or different
interpretations of a decision are teased
out and can be addressed quickly.
3. Share ideas, not information
Meetings should be times when people
share ideas and have the opportunity to
contribute to business solutions.
Meetings should not be an occasion
to distribute information. Relevant
information should be shared in
advance of a meeting – giving people
time to absorb it and reflect on it –
so that the meeting can be used to
discuss strategy, implementation and
Got an issue in your office that needs
BUSINESS OFFICE LIFE
acuity | JULY 2014
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