We Were Close Friends. Then I Got Promoted to Their Manager…


Friendships are a valuable part of our lives, and when those connections extend into the workplace, they can bring a sense of camaraderie and support. However, what happens when the dynamics change and a close friend becomes your subordinate? In this article, we explore the challenges faced by a manager who is promoted from within their circle of friends and provide insights on how to navigate this transition while preserving both the professional relationship and the friendship. This article is in two parts, written from both the perspective of the Manager and the Sub-Ordinate.

Embracing the New Role:

Being promoted to a managerial position within the same organization can be both exciting and daunting. As a newly appointed manager, it is crucial to embrace your new role and the responsibilities that come with it. Recognize that your relationship with your friend must now incorporate a professional dimension, and that maintaining objectivity and fairness is essential for the success of your team.

Transparent Communication:

Open and transparent communication is the foundation for a successful transition. Engage in an honest conversation with your friend about the changes in your roles and expectations. Clearly communicate any shifts in responsibilities, and address any concerns they may have. Encourage open dialogue to ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the new dynamics and can voice any potential challenges.

Setting Clear Boundaries:

Establishing clear boundaries is vital in maintaining professionalism and fairness as a manager. While it can be tempting to rely on the existing friendship, it is important to distinguish between personal and professional spheres. Avoid discussing work matters outside of appropriate contexts, and ensure that personal conversations do not interfere with your managerial duties. By setting boundaries, you create a conducive environment for productivity and growth within the team.

Consistency and Fairness:

As a manager, it is crucial to treat all employees equally and avoid any appearance of favoritism. This responsibility becomes even more significant when managing a friend. Make a conscious effort to evaluate your decisions based on merit and the best interests of the team and the organization. Strive to be fair and consistent in your interactions, providing feedback and recognition based on individual performance rather than personal relationships.

Earning Respect:

Transitioning from a peer to a manager requires earning the respect and trust of your team, including your friend. Lead by example, demonstrate your competence, and make decisions based on sound judgment. Showing professionalism, integrity, and strong leadership qualities will help establish your credibility and mitigate any concerns about preferential treatment. By focusing on your own growth and development as a manager, you inspire others to do the same.

Seeking Support:

Navigating the complexities of managing a friend can be challenging, and it is essential to seek support when needed. Reach out to mentors, colleagues, or supervisors for guidance and advice. Discussing your experiences and concerns with others can offer valuable perspectives and help you develop strategies to handle any difficulties that may arise. Remember, you don’t have to face these challenges alone.

Preserving the Friendship:

While the professional relationship must take precedence during working hours, it is essential to find ways to preserve and nurture the friendship outside of the office. Make a conscious effort to engage in activities that strengthen your bond beyond the confines of work-related matters. Maintaining a healthy balance between professional and personal interactions will contribute to the longevity of your friendship.


The transition from friend to manager is a unique journey that requires careful consideration and deliberate actions. By embracing your new role, establishing clear boundaries, and maintaining consistent and fair practices, you can successfully navigate the challenges of managing a close friend. Remember, effective communication, professionalism, and seeking support when needed are key to preserving both the professional relationship and the friendship. With a balanced approach, it is possible to flourish as a manager while strengthening the bond you share with your friend.

Now let’s take a look at it from the Sub-Ordinate’s perspective...

We Were Close Friends. Then He Got Promoted to My Manager…


Friendships in the workplace are a common occurrence, and they often enhance our job satisfaction and overall well-being. These relationships can provide support, camaraderie, and even boost productivity. However, when a close friend ascends to a position of authority over you, it can introduce unique challenges and strain the dynamics of your relationship. In this article, we explore the complexities that arise when a friend becomes your manager and offer strategies to navigate this delicate situation.

The Shift in Power Dynamics:

The promotion of a close friend to a managerial position inevitably alters the power dynamics between you. What was once an equal relationship suddenly transforms into a hierarchical one, characterized by authority, accountability, and differing responsibilities. This shift can be uncomfortable, especially if the friend-turned-manager struggles to separate their personal and professional roles.

Maintaining Professional Boundaries:

To successfully navigate this new dynamic, it is essential to establish and maintain clear professional boundaries. Recognize that your friend now holds a position of authority and treat them as you would any other manager. This includes following protocols, meeting deadlines, and respecting their decisions. By demonstrating professionalism, you signal your commitment to the organization’s success and help preserve the friendship outside of the office.

Open Communication:

Communication is key when it comes to managing relationships in the workplace. After your friend assumes their managerial role, it’s crucial to have an open and honest conversation about your concerns and expectations. Express any worries you may have about potential conflicts or favoritism. Addressing these issues early on can help foster understanding and prevent resentment from brewing.

Separate Personal and Professional Lives:

Maintaining a balance between your personal and professional lives becomes particularly important when your friend becomes your manager. It’s essential to establish boundaries and refrain from discussing work matters outside of designated workspaces or hours. This separation helps preserve the friendship while ensuring that work-related matters are handled professionally and impartially.

Treat Everyone Equally:

One of the greatest challenges for your friend-turned-manager is to treat all employees fairly and equitably. It is their responsibility to set aside personal biases and make decisions based on merit and organizational goals. As their friend and subordinate, it is crucial that you do not exploit your relationship to gain preferential treatment. Instead, strive to be an exemplary employee, focused on your own performance and contributions.

Seeking Support:

Dealing with the complexities of a friendship-turned-manager-subordinate relationship can be emotionally taxing. It’s important to seek support from outside sources to help you navigate these challenges. Engage with mentors, colleagues, or even a professional coach to gain perspective and guidance. Sharing your experiences and concerns with others can provide valuable insights and help you find constructive solutions.


Navigating the transition when a close friend becomes your manager can be a delicate and sometimes challenging process. It requires clear communication, the establishment of professional boundaries, and the ability to separate personal and professional spheres. By openly addressing concerns, treating everyone fairly, and seeking support when needed, it is possible to maintain a healthy friendship while thriving in your professional roles. Remember, change is a constant in the workplace, and adapting to new dynamics can lead to personal growth and stronger professional relationships in the long run.

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