4 Helpful Tips on How to Transition From Friend to Boss
By: Katie Bivens May 24, 2018
Last year, I had the exciting opportunity to transition into a new role here at Vanderbloemen. I not only switched roles but changed teams altogether, and a friend of mine became one of my supervisors.
If not carefully navigated, having your friend turn into your boss can introduce challenges similar to when best friends become roommates. It can be enjoyable and fun at times, but it can also place strain on your relationship and potentially ruin a friendship if you're not careful.
This is especially true in ministry, as many pastors and church leaders start a church or ministry with their best friends. It's exciting and can work really well, but if not carefully navigated, it can also become challenging and potentially hurtful.
Here are four things you can do to safeguard your friendship and set yourself up for a successful employer/employee relationship.
1. Set Expectations Upfront
Before I actually interviewed for the role, my friend and I had initial conversations about my interest in the position. This friend would not be my direct supervisor, but she would be someone I would interact with daily and report projects to from time-to-time. She let me know upfront how involved she would be in this role, which allowed me to mentally process what our interactions would look like not only for my work environment, but also for our friendship. Getting an idea of what a situation will look like before going into it will help set clear expectations, which sets everyone up for success.
2. Show Respect
One of the most common hiccups that can occur when a friend becomes a supervisor is not having an appropriate level of respect. Typically, this isn’t done intentionally; often it's a result of having a hard time seeing someone you've been buddies with become a boss. A shift in perspective may take some time, but will ultimately need to happen for the professional relationship to be successful.
"A shift in perspective may take some time, but will ultimately need to happen for the professional relationship to be successful."
You'll want to enter into this new dynamic with the same amount of respect that you would show any other boss or supervisor you've had. It’s likely your relationship will not be as formal had you not previously been friends, but the same level of respect for authority will need to be in place.
3. Be Honest
When transitioning into a role with the right expectations and boundaries, a friend becoming a boss can be a good thing. Because you already have a level of trust and camaraderie set up, the freedom to communicate openly and honestly will be natural. Many relational breakdowns happen (often with supervisors) from insufficient communication or a hesitancy to be honest. When your friend becomes your boss, you should take advantage of the built-in trust and be transparent from the beginning to create an even stronger relationship in the long run.
"When your friend becomes your boss, you should take advantage of the built-in trust and be transparent from the beginning to create an even stronger relationship in the long run."
4. Accept That Things Will Change
At the end of the day, when your friend becomes your boss, things are inevitably going to shift. Hopefully, if you’ve implemented the steps above, the change will be minimal. But as the responsibilities of your friend change, he or she may no longer be able to talk to you as freely as before. They will likely have knowledge of internal information that they will not be able to share. Show grace and be considerate as the relationship alters a bit. With time and patience, the rhythm of the friendship will naturally run its course. It may be different, but that doesn’t mean it is any worse than before.
What other tips have you found helpful when a friend becomes a boss?