We're best friends and now I'm the boss

I've just accepted a promotion which means I'm now managing my close friend. How can I maintain my authority without destroying our friendship?

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I think the starting point for this situation is to speak to your best friend to tell her that things might be a bit different now that you have changed roles but that you don’t want that to affect your friendship.

Do I have to do that formally?

No, in fact it may cause more of an issue that it needs to be if you do. I suggest having an informal chat sooner rather than later in a friendly, light-hearted way. Share your insecurities that it might seem a bit strange for both of you at first when you have to be in character of the boss.

Won’t that make me look weak as their boss?

Not at all. It’s authentic leadership. It might be a bit weird for your friend to report to you but they are likely to cope better if they know you feel a bit weird about it too!

Should we still take our lunch breaks together?    

If you want to, yes! There is no reason why you can’t continue to be friends, particularly in your own time.

What if the team perceive this as favouritism?

It’s down to you and your friend to demonstrate that you can behave professionally at work and your friendship is not a factor in your work-related decision making.

You could get it out in the open by mentioning it as an issue in a team meeting and reassuring the team that your friendship will have no bearing on your working relationship.


Nickie Elenor

I have been an employment law solicitor for 15 years.

I set up Your HR Lawyer as I was fed up with the call centre models and poor service provided by the big HR support providers. So my mission is to provide the creditable alternative. I am passionate about helping employers navigate through the sometimes complex world of Employment law in a commercially savvy and straight talking way.