Here’s the reality of our modern work world as leaders: you often become ‘friends’, and many times very close friends, with those employees that we also supervise. It’s actually very natural and a normal behavior, especially in organizations that have strong, positive cultures. The problem arises when the friendship gets in the way of delivering feedback that will help your employee/friend be the best they can be.
In this episode of TalentTalks, I address this common problem we face as leaders. On Tuesday night, we played golf together, and on Wednesday morning you now have to sit you down and talk about performance? This can be a nightmare for leaders and the employee if it’s not set up in the right way, and leaders often blow this opportunity to actually grow the friendship and raise the engagement of your employee.
There are four main things to remember when delivering performance feedback to an employee you supervise that’s also your friend:
- Leverage the friendship: “If we’re friends, I need this from you.”
- Verify the performance: Make sure the feedback you’re going to give is well founded by checking it over with others.
- Involve an HR business partner: Have someone to facilitate the conversation and keep the relationship professional
- Give feedback as normal: As a leader, you owe it to your friend/employee to give them the same feedback you would give anyone else.
In a modern world, it’s no longer correct to tell a leader not to be friends with those they supervise. It just doesn’t work in real life. But, that doesn’t mean we, as leaders, can’t also deliver great performance feedback to those individuals in a critical way, as long as we learn how to present this. Done correctly, it’s a great experience for both sides. Done incorrectly and you ruin a friendship and an employee in one performance conversation.