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Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

How do I manage my former friends?

I’m not sure how to handle my new supervisory position.  Before being promoted, I was friends with my former coworkers, so I’m finding it difficult to tell them what to do.  I love being a supervisor, but it’s hard to be as tough as my superiors want me to be.

In a perfect world, I would like to be both a boss and a friend.  However, I’m beginning to realize that to get things done, I need to be less of a friend and more of a boss.  I know I have to demonstrate leadership, but I’m afraid this will turn me into an unlikeable person.  After all, does anyone really like their boss?

Marie’s Answer

To you, “boss” apparently means someone who is autocratic and unpleasant.  Perhaps that has been your unfortunate experience.  However, many people actually do admire their managers and enjoy working with them.

Nevertheless, you are correct in thinking that you and your former peers can no longer be friends in the same way.  The fact that you will now be doing their performance reviews has completely redefined that relationship.  Like every new supervisor, you must learn how to comfortably relate to people from a position of power.

For help in navigating this transition, look for books, workshops, or online resources that provide lessons in leadership.  Observe the behavior of highly effective managers and use them as role models.

You will soon come to realize that your goal is not to be liked, but to be respected.  However, if you learn to handle authority appropriately, it is quite possible to do both.

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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    Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

    Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

    Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for CNBC.com and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

    As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

    Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.