Friends at Work

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I used to feel like I was part of a “group” with my co-workers, but ever since I got promoted to a management position; people are starting to act differently. My role has changed, but it’s not like I suddenly oversee these particular people.  What do you suppose happened, and what can I do?  I thought these were my friends.  Any suggestions?

Dear “Boss,”

In reading your question, the first thought that comes to mind is… avoid making friends at work. 
You’re there to get a job done – not to socialize.

 Then, I stopped myself and considered the fact that some of my closest friends are people I met at the office, not to mention the fact that we typically spend more time with these people than the people in our personal lives.  So, in essence, it’s important to get along with your co-workers, and it certainly creates a much more pleasant atmosphere. 

I can understand your concern and would think that you could simply address your feelings with this group by asking them, point blank, what’s going on.  Seems simple enough to me!

Without knowing you or any of the people involved, it’s a little hard to tell what may REALLY be going on.  For instance:

  • Are you flaunting your promotion and driving everyone nuts with your success?
  • Are your friends jealous?
  • Do they feel they can’t socialize with you due to your new title – and the fact that you now work more closely with others at your level?
  • Is all of this in your head?

Remember though that there always is a bit of a separation between management and the worker bees. You’re now part of the “establishment” that dictates the company culture. Especially if there are things about the company that have been pet peeves to your co-workers (e.g., no flex time, benefits could be better, etc .), those pet peeves are likely now associated with you. If you want to continue your climb up the corporate ladder, you’ve got to understand that it’s going to be tough to keep some friendships with those not climbing as fast as you.

I think your best bet is to remain professional and set aside some time after work (like a dinner or fun outing) with this group to reinitiate yourself.  By openly communicating (about your feelings, making sure not to disrespect any of your co-workers’ privacy or feelings), you’re sure to set things straight.


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tgibbs21
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 11:29:15

    I know that it is not easy to be the boss of people you work with and now their are some that might be jealous of you. Just do your job and if they were your friends to began with they will be glade for you and they will be understanding and realize what position you have to take on.


  2. m.capriola
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 11:23:31

    I hate to say it, but too often in this country Management is seen to be The Enemy. There are many valid reasons for this, and it’s often hard to change habitual patterns of behavior.

    You may not be able to socialize with your old friends at work because of your change in status, so try to maintain contact with them outside of work, as Anita suggested. Did you guys hang out together after hours or on weekends? If so, there’s no reason to change that.


  3. Roshan
    May 31, 2011 @ 18:54:41

    i am new users and new person in this country as well as job seeker. i have a lot experience but due to migrant does it works or not? i know what is my problem that i can’t understand their native language instant situation and it takes more conversation but they does not like it. please help me what i do in this situation? what is best for me ?


  4. Black CAT
    May 31, 2011 @ 18:27:59

    Are you dressing better than them, smiling too much? That can attract jealousy whether you realize it or not. Take your friends out to lunch and pay the bill.


  5. Artina Leatrice Graves
    May 31, 2011 @ 14:26:07

    I have to say I have been fired or terminated on more than one occasion because of jealous co-workers. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but hope for the best. Try not to lose your friends because they are important in your career if you work with them but do your job. They will be insecure your presence because now they are afraid you might tell on them if they slack. When you were equal they knew you did not have power to tell on them. Hopefully it does not affect your job as it has done over and over again my job.


  6. Jean-Luc Saindoux
    May 31, 2011 @ 09:58:58

    If it was me, i wont worrie about them, i will do my job thats what the company want, and if they can not understand my new position, cause its okay with me, i know they would do the same if they were to have my position..


  7. Jean-Luc Saindoux
    May 31, 2011 @ 09:50:29

    This what i have to say to you, if you were part of a group, and your position change, and people is ackting defferent, that means you were never part of that group, so the best thing to do is do not worrie about others but your self..


  8. Kelly
    May 31, 2011 @ 09:14:06

    You’re in a position of leadership now. They probably are some what jealous but the relationship has changed. Be kind to them & in time things may change but like Anita said, you are there to do a job and advance yourself. You’ll make new friends in your new leadership role. Give it time.


  9. Linda Kay Johnson
    May 31, 2011 @ 08:33:33

    I think anitas response is right to try to come down to their level and let them know your feelings,they could be feeling insecure about your new position and possibly are jealous.Theres always a way to work with this through patience and humility.Prayer also helps,in regards ,Linda


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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