The scenario may seem like a career dream come true – working for a good friend. There are certainly advantages: sharing professional goals with someone you like, respect and communicate easily with is always a plus. It’s also helpful to start a new job where you like your boss and have a good idea of what you’re getting into. However, adding a supervisor-employee dynamic to an existing friendship may be tricky. Like any work situation, there are pros and cons to consider before moving forward.
Here are five things to keep in mind before moving forward, as well as what to do if a promotion suddenly turns a friend into your boss.
Consider the job. Your friend may be eager to have a trusted colleague working for her, however, put the friendship aside for a moment and evaluate whether the offer itself is truly right for you. Determine if the career utilizes your talents and will engage and challenge you as a professional. Don’t accept a position on the sole basis of your relationship.
Don’t expect any favors. If you think you’ll have it made with your BFF as a boss, think again. A previous friendship isn’t a license to slink in late or routinely take a three hour lunch. You will be expected to set the bar high and become one of the strongest members of the team. It will be more difficult for you to prove yourself as you will likely have some push back from those that may initially have reservations due to your close connection to the boss. You can overcome the stigma by demonstrating a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and a genuine interest in the job.
Discuss how you will handle problems and disagreements. A candid conversation about the chain of command is in order. Ask yourself if you are ready and willing to take constructive criticism and honest feedback from a friend who is now your superior. Only you can answer the question. It’s not a matter of “if” something goes awry, but “when” and how you will work through it.
Acknowledge that your friendship may change. You most likely will have an adjustment period and your friend will now be your new boss. Grabbing a drink after work or going to the movies or on a weekend trip may not be in either of your best interests. Venting to your boss is not the same thing as venting to a friend. You may have to accept a new normal, and find someone else to share the details of your life with. On the other hand, you might be able to go on with business as usual, in and out of the office. Only time will tell. Much will depend on the size of your office, the number of employees and the corporate culture.
Expect the best. You are friends for a reason. If everything else about the job is appealing, your mutual respect for each other will help smooth over the rough spots. The fact that you started out as friends means there is a foundation of trust and admiration already in place. If you can build on that, you may likely enjoy a successful professional relationship.
For more of my career advice, check out my article on The Huffington Post, Client or Friend? How to Successfully Mix Business and Pleasure.