How IT Managers Deal With The Friend Problem

by drjim on January 23, 2014

IT Managers need to treat their friends just like everyone else

IT Managers need to treat their friends just like everyone else

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I’ve got some good news for you, IT managers are allowed to have friends just like everyone else in the world. Where things can get just a little bit tricky is when those friends are members of the IT team that you are managing. This can happen when you get promoted to lead a team or when a friend transfers into your team. In both cases, you are going to have the IT manager skills to handle this situation and know how best to manage a friend.

The Problem With Managing Friends

All too often IT managers discover that people who they were friends with yesterday are suddenly members of their team and people who have to be managed. Just in case you wanted to know, there is no magical “correct” way or secret IT manager training out there that can tell us how to handle this delicate situation. The good news is that you can still remain friends with these people, it’s just that your relationship with them is going to have to change while they are on your team.

You need to keep in mind that as an IT manager, you don’t want your friendship with members of your team to hurt either your job performance or their job performance. One of the biggest problems that you are going to have to make sure does not happen is that you can’t allow your friendship to interfere with how you go about performing your management job.

3 Things To Keep In Mind When Managing Friends

The first thing that an IT manager needs to keep in mind is that your friends need to be managed just like everyone else on your team. The easy thing to remember is to not provide your friends with any preferential treatment over other team members. The much harder thing to realize is that you don’t want to treat your friends any worse than other team members as a way of showing the rest of the team that you are not playing favorites.

The bad news about managing friends is that your relationship with your friends will by necessity have to change. At work, you are going to have to be very clear that you have expectations of the type and quantity of work that your friends are going to have to do – just like everyone else. The most important thing that you can do as a manager is to create a common set of standards for your team that everyone, including your friends, will get held to.

Finally, we all like to go to our friends and have those personal conversations with them. This is one of the things that is going to have to change when you find yourself managing friends. You want to make sure that it doesn’t look like you are playing favorites. This means those long discussions with your friends about everything and nothing in general that happen in your office need to go away – you can only tell your friends the same things that you would feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the team.

What All Of This Means For You

Managing a team is tough work. When your IT team has personal friends on it that job just became a little bit harder to do. You don’t want to have to kick them off of your team and you don’t want to have to end your friendship with them. You need to know how to manage friends and how to include them in the IT team building that we do every day..

In order to be successful, you are going to have to take care to manage your friends just like you manage everyone else. Don’t treat them any better and don’t treat them any worse than you do the other members of your team. Your relationship with your friends will have to change – you’ll need to hold them to the same performance standards as everyone else. Finally, you can’t confide in your friends – you’re going to need to hold them at an arm’s length just like everyone else on your team.

Being an IT manager can be a lonely job. We all need friends and all too often life places one or more of our friends on our IT team. When this happens you need to be prepared to handle it in a way that will be fair to both of you. The good news is that it is possible to successfully manage both your career and your friends.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If a friend is not performing well on your team, should you talk to them as team member or as a friend?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager you’ll often be looking for ways to leave your mark on your IT team. One way to go about doing this is to reorganize your team. However, you need to be very careful when it comes to doing this because you may not have the IT manager skills to do it correctly – any sort of reorganization can be very disruptive to a team. Additionally, what would a reorganization do to your span of control?

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