Managing Upward: How to Work Effectively With the “Best Friend” Boss


friend_bossAs you advance in your career, there are many opportunities to improve the quality of your workplace relationships. If you work for the same organization for many years, it’s likely that you’ll become close with one or more co-workers. At some point, one of your closest friends could become the boss. Here, we consider how to manage upwards and work with the best-friend-boss.

Accept That the Relationship Must Change
The biggest thing that you must realize in managing upwards is that you must establish appropriate boundaries, behaviors, and patterns of communication for each relationship. The person who was your best friend for five years is now the boss. Change is in order. Your boss must maintain some degree of separation from you and other team members in order to be objective and to be a good manager. Your best friend can’t tell you everything. Sometimes, he won’t be available for lunch or happy hour.

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Don’t Take Things Personally
Sometimes, your best friend must make decisions that affect your job or those of your colleagues. You may not like every decision that she makes, but don’t take offense at what she does as the boss. Give your best friend space to make decisions and maintain your relationship outside of work. You still have connections to her family and friends.

Stay Neutral
Resist the urge to ask for the dirt on other people on the work team. This behavior would only undermine your friendship with your boss and potentially damage relationships with other co-workers. Show your professionalism and help your boss to build the team into a stronger unit.