Promoted: Friend to Friendly

02/05/2024 By: John Huff

A professional colleague suggested I create a course to help newly promoted supervisors better adjust to managing former peers. She suggested the title Friend to Friendly, and I agree it's hard one day to have lunch in the break room with a co-worker and the next day be expected to hold them accountable to do their job.

I've observed some newly promoted supervisors fail because they allowed friendships to interfere with their new job. But far more often, I've seen supervisors fail because their company didn't prepare them for being a supervisor, period. Forget managing their friends.

Past practice

For people who are experienced supervisors or managers, you probably remember completing extensive training before being promoted to be a supervisor. Some companies used a two-year development role to be able to practice alongside a mentor before being assigned fully.  Ah, the good old days.  Honestly, they weren't always good, but that approach did work, and new supervisors were usually well prepared for their new role.

Current practice

In the past ten to twenty years, the work force has changed. Experienced supervisors have been retiring. Many younger candidates don't want the hassle of managing people. Companies seem to expect that technology makes information easier and cheaper to provide by computer. Many of these cost effective approaches either don't register with the individual or the training can be quickly completed by fast-forwarding through the material. These changes are causing companies to lose the ability to effectively manage the most difficult variable at work: people.


People can spend hours debating the employment problems with people, but we should not overlook the value in preparing supervisors BEFORE they are asked to be the front line representatives of our businesses. It takes time and money, but the alternative is to continue to experience the damage that happens when people leaders are not prepared to do their jobs.