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Keeping camaraderie while climbing the ladder


When you get promoted, things can get complicated if you’re suddenly your buddy’s boss. Here’s how to gain prestige in the workplace without losing friends.

We called on two career counselling experts to lay down some cardinal rules to maintaining a professional relationship without losing your personal one. When it comes to friendships in the workplace, being candid is key.

1. Focus on yourself first

Following a promotion, it’s important to focus on how you feel about your new job status rather than on what your friend and colleague is feeling. “Work through any beliefs or thoughts that may prevent you from enjoying your success and continuing to progress in your career,” advises Shirin Khamisa, head coach and career counsellor at Careers by Design in Toronto. This can often mean acknowledging feelings of guilt for advancing faster than your friend or anxiety about your new responsibilities. Once you tune in with how you’re feeling and deal with the issues at hand, you’ll be able to manage others better.

2. Communicate with clarity

“Meet the issue head-on before real problems develop. Reassure your friend that you will make certain that business will not come between your friendship,” suggests Joseph Tomlinson of Ottawa’s J.A.T. & Associates Inc., a company that specializes in career management. However, Ms. Khamisa cautions, “Proceeding without setting some boundaries may be damaging to the relationship.” For example, you may need to remind your friend that discussing personal issues in the workplace is no longer appropriate.

3. Play fair

“A potential problem could be your friend’s perception of how you will act as the boss,” says Mr. Tomlinson. Put your friend’s worries to rest by doing the right thing and playing fair. “Don’t leverage the relationship and expect more out of your friend than you do of the other people you are supervising. Similarly, don’t play favourites,” advises Ms. Khamisa. You’ll prevent unnecessary conflicts by being vigilant about treating all members of your team equally.

4. Listen

Part of being a good leader is being a good listener. “Remain open to conversation – your friend will appreciate the care and concern that this communicates,” states Ms. Khamisa. As long as you and your friend are open and honest with each other, there’s no reason why the relationship – both professional and personal – can’t continue to thrive.