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How to Deal with an Employee Who is Also Your Friend
We’ve all had our fair share of awkward workplace situations. Among the most awkward is being responsible for disciplining someone you really like to hang out with. You landed your management role because you’re a strong and competent professional, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re put on the spot. If you need to deal with an employee that you would consider a friend, there are a few things you should do to simplify the process.

How to Deal with an Employee Who is Also Your Friend

1. Keep Work Stuff at Work

If the employee in question is someone you see outside of work, it might seem like a good idea to bring up whatever is going on in an area where you’re both more comfortable. In truth, the consequences of doing so can damage your friendship outside of the workplace. You want both the good and the bad parts of work to stay right where they are. It’s easier to completely separate those two parts of your life – they’re equally important but very different.

2. Look At Them On Paper

It helps to step back. You’ll never really be able to look at the world through someone else’s eyes, but it does help to look at things on paper. What exactly did this employee do that would be considered disruptive or counterproductive in the workplace? Is it something as small as a few dress code violations, or something as major as routinely showing up late? Write down what happened, and consider what you would tell any other employee in the same situation. Remain objective when it counts.

3. Choose Your Words Carefully

We speak to friends much differently than we speak to employees, but context counts for everything. Sometimes we feel like we can be blunter with our friends, and sometimes we feel like we should be softer because we care about someone. Find a middle ground. It’s possible to be both straightforward and compassionate at the same time. Everything is about finding the right balance, and having a friendship with the individual in question might even make it easier to find the right words. Communication is extremely important in situations like these.
[RELATED: How to Deal With a Difficult Coworker [INFOGRAPHIC]]

4. Don’t Give Them Special Treatment

Letting things slide or putting off an important conversation because you feel iffy about having it will only cause more problems later on. It always helps to address a problem as soon as you notice it. Yes, it is your friend you’re dealing with, but you can’t just forget everything you learned about management. You’ll have less to deal with if you act immediately – it won’t be a big mash-up of a bunch of things that need to get taken care of. You can act swiftly and be done with the situation in a day, and everything can go back to normal in no time.

5. Respect Their Space

Things might feel a little weird after you’ve dealt with an issue. This is completely normal. You might not go right back to being as friendly as you were before you had a conversation that wasn’t easy for either of you. You need to be alright with that. Give the employee some space. Let him or her decide when they’re ready to be buddies again. Don’t harp on it, don’t apologize for doing your job, and don’t try to act like nothing happened. If your friendship with this employee was real, it will be resilient. Give it some time.
Dealing with an employee you really like may not be the best thing you’ll do all week, but it’s not going to be the toughest thing you’ve ever done at work. It’s possible to be both a good leader and a good friend simultaneously as long as you act appropriately.

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