What A Manager Should Do When Their Friend Is Not Doing Their Job

Managers face a real problem when their friends are dropping the ball
Managers face a real problem when their friends are dropping the ball
Image Credit: Alex

Can you ever have too many friends? I don’t think so. As a manager it is very likely that at one time or another one of your friends will be someone who is on your team. This is a pretty natural thing and as long as both of you keep it professional, there should be no problems with it. However, if your friend starts to slack off and not do their job the way that they should be doing it, then what’s a manager to do?

What To Do When A Friend Is Not Performing

As the manager of a team of professionals, it’s your job to use your manager skills to keep tabs on how everyone is doing. If you discover that your friend is not living up to what they have been assigned to do, you are going to have to take action even if you don’t have any manager training on what to do. This can be a very tricky situation to find yourself in. On the one hand, you are friends with the person and you feel that you know them pretty well and they know you pretty well, on the other hand the performance of the team is your responsibility and if they aren’t doing their job, then this is going to end up hurting you.

When you have a friend on your team who is not performing like they need to be, you are going to have to make some decisions. Are you going to be the one who tells them that they have to start to work harder? Or are you going to pass the buck and go tell your manager that you’ve got a problem employee that you don’t know how to deal with? What’s going to have to happen is that you are going to make some decisions about the differences between being a good manager and being a good friend. You are going to have to determine if your friend will be willing to listen to you and if they will, how best to give them the news that they need to improve their performance.

When you find yourself in this situation, you need to understand that your options may be limited. As a manager, you probably realize that your boss does not really want to hear about a problem that you are having with someone on your team. What they are going to want you to do is to talk with the person who is causing you the problem in order to get things worked out. This will, of course, lead to the problem that most people don’t feel all that comfortable either giving or receiving criticism from the people that they work with. The hope here is that your friendship with this team member will position you to better provide them with the guidance that they need.

How To Communicate With A Friend Who Isn’t Doing Their Job

If you decide that your friend needs someone to talk with them, the big question that you’ll be facing is “what next?” The good news is that studies have shown that workplace friendships can be linked to improving people’s job performance. The problem that you are going to be facing is that you are going to have some real challenges here. When you are talking with a friend about what they are not doing as a part of their job, this conversation is going to be filled with misunderstandings, questions about who plays what role, and flat out disagreements. In the end, you are going to walk away from this kind of discussion feeling emotionally drained.

You also need to realize that the responsibility to solve this kind of problem may not always fall on your shoulders. There are cases where your management needs to get involved when your friend is not living up to their job expectations. Two specific cases where a boss needs to be involved would involve cases where your friend’s actions have somehow crossed some legal or ethical boundaries. Issues like this are simply too big for you to be able to deal with on your own and you are going to need some outside help in finding a solution. Additionally, if you have talked with your friend, perhaps multiple times, and they have not changed their behavior, then it may be time to appeal to a higher power in order to get things worked out.

If you do decide to have a talk with the teammate who is your friend about the situation that they have caused, you need to first figure out if you think that they will be open to listening to what you have to say to them. If your friend believes that they can do no wrong and has rejected input from others in the past, then you will probably not be able to get through to them. Likewise, if your friend knows that they are doing a poor job but simply does not care, then it’s going to be up to you to show them that they are harming both themselves and the other members of their team. The best way to share your information with your friend is to wait for them to create an opening. When they express disappointment with the way that things are going, use this as an opportunity to jump in and provide them with some feedback that can help them to do a better job.

What All Of This Means For You

Friends are good things to have. As a manager, you spend a great deal of your time working closely with the people on your team. It’s only natural that you may develop a friendship with one or more of these people. This is all fine, unless the person that you have developed a friendship with starts to not do their job. What are you going to do now manager?

If you find yourself in this situation, you have a number of decisions that you are going to have to make. Do you talk to your friend about their job performance? Do you go over their head and talk with your manager about the problem that you’ve having with someone on your team? This is generally not the type of problem that your boss wants to be dealing with. Instead it’s going to be left up to you to talk with your friend. Before you do that you’ll need to determine if they are going to be open to listening to what you have to say. If they think that they can do no wrong or if they have rejected input from others, you probably won’t be able to get through to them. However, if they express dissatisfaction with the way that things are going, then you’ll have an opportunity to point out what they could be doing differently.

Everyone likes having friends, nobody likes having to tell their friends bad news. When one of your friends is a member of your team and they are not doing what they need to be doing, it’s going to be up to you to let them know. As tough as this may be, you need to realize that you are really doing them a favor – this is similar to team building. What you do now will hopefully help them to be more successful in the future. Take the time to plan how you’ll let them know what they are doing wrong and then go ahead and do it. They’ll eventually thank you for it.

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

Question For You: When a friend is not doing what they should be doing, do you think that you should wait to see if they improve on their own?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The job of being a manager is a tough one. There are a lot of different things that you’ll be asked to do and meanwhile you have the responsibility of leading your team and showing them what to do. None of us were born knowing how to go about doing all of this and so we probably don’t have the manager skills or manager training that we need. If we can get any help from the outside, we should always be grateful for it. The good news is that there have been a lot of managers before us and if we can only take the time to listen to what they want to tell us, then we can become better at this manager thing.