Boss Versus Buddy: Where to Draw the Line?

Friday 26 August, 2016


Too often in business when a frontline person steps up to a leadership role there is no guidance on “how” to handle going from being one of the team to leading and managing the same team.


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At times it can be hard for the new manager who may feel they need to prove that Executive Management has made the right choice in promoting them while watching their back as shunned team members wait for them to make a wrong move so they can gloat that the Executive Management made the wrong choice.

We are all aware of the team member who likes to divide and conquer managers as though it is a quest for them. These team members make it very hard for a new manager. Therefore it is important that the new manager seeks support from other managers on how to deal with different behavioural styles of team members.

1. Respect and Team Unity

I believe that respect in the workplace is the most important value and over the past two decades have witnessed in both my own company and my clients that when there is no respect, there is no unity. When moving up to a managers’ role, respect is earned, with the new manager showing the following qualities:

1. Fairness
2. Understanding
3. Mutual Respect

When a team is united their purpose is strengthened, and results are achieved more quickly when they know, they can depend on each other, and the flow of communication is open.

A manager works “on the business” instead of “in the business” and some new managers find this shift hard; instead of delegating tasks they continue to do them and wonder why they are not achieving their own KPI’s while their team become “frustrated” because they feel they are not trusted to complete the task.

2. Be in Alignment With the Business’s Values

Another issue that is seen in the workplace is with people struggling with what are called espoused values versus lived values. In other words, they say one thing but do another. There are also going to be differences depending on where they are in the chain of command, whether they are the CEO, COO, Department Head, Supervisor and even Team Leaders who have just begun their management journey all see things slightly differently. To align their viewpoints, they must have some aligned values.

Usually, staff in all those different roles value slightly different things: The HR department usually values people and performance. The Sales and Marketing Department values styles and competition. The Finance Department values accuracy, precision and compliance. While the CEO and COO are the ones, who are trying to pull it all together and steer the team in the right direction. Common core values can keep everyone moving in the same direction and build trust and cooperation between these management silos.

3. Understand the Boundaries of Socialising

This is an area that can be especially hard for a new manager who has always socialised with the team on weekends. Moving into a leadership role, it is hard to gain respect from the team and manage with authority if over the weekend they have shared confidential matters about other team members or acted inappropriately.

It is not to say a new manager has to cut themselves off from those they once socialised with. However, they do need to consider their actions and not to discuss work-related matters outside of the workplace particularly if it pertains to another team member.

No matter where you are on your business journey there will always be those who are envious of your achievements and sometimes these co-workers could be your friends. It is important that you begin your leadership role understanding the tasks involved and to seek out a mentor (outside of the company preferably) to discuss ways on how to go from being a “buddy” to a “boss”.



About the contributor:

Michelle Pascoe lives and breathes her passion for Customer Service, Mystery Shopping, and Team Motivation. She is an experienced businesswomen and specialist in every aspect of service operations and processes and their impact on the "Customer Experience".In 1994 she founded one of Australia’s most respected training and research companies, Optimum Operating Procedures and Services Pty Ltd (OOPS).





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