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How do I deal with being in charge of friends?

nurse-friends

image: © istockphoto.com/Jeffrey Smith

Being in charge is hard enough, but managing your friends is a tricky balancing act unlike any other.

Both the friendship and the work relationship can become strained when one friend is in a position of authority over another.

But as impossible as it may seem to separate your personal life from your professional life, especially if you live in a small town or work in a close-knit facility, it’s absolutely essential.

That’s not to say you can never be friends with your friend again; it just means that you’re going to have to draw some strict professional boundaries.

Boundary #1: Never let personal feelings interfere with work decisions.

In other words, you may like Sally, and you may even know that she’s had a tough week. But giving her an easier assignment simply because you’re friends is professionally unethical. At work, Sally is another employee on the unit and should be treated as such.

Boundary #2: Keep professional matters professional.

As a charge nurse or manager, you may be privy to information that your friends are not. Ethically, if you’re not able to share that information with them as charge nurse/employee, you can’t share it with them friend-to-friend. Also, never discuss other employees with your friends.

Boundary #3: Be friendly but not intimate at work.

It’s okay to continue your friendship. It’s not okay to spend work time rehashing your weekend, especially if you’re not as close with other employees. At work, you’ll want to avoid anything that could create an impression of favoritism. Hopefully, your friend will understand the need for some professional separation at work.

Boundary #4: Performance evals should be strictly based on performance.

To avoid letting your personal feelings sway performance evaluations, concentrate on objective measures of competency. Include documentation whenever possible.

With a little understanding on both sides, it’s entirely possible to maintain the friendship while establishing a productive work relationship.

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2 Responses to How do I deal with being in charge of friends?

  1. Grant Fields

    I agree with the article – the work/friend/professionalism environment is a tough one to manage. Good suggestions for those in charge but I do think it can go both ways. If you have a friend that is in a superior position than you, don’t ask for information that you know is not shared with the entire staff. You are just asking for a breach of confidence and overstepping a boundary that may make both of you uncomfortable.

  2. In Charge Nurse

    I will say that regarding boundary #1, an aspect of being a good supervisor is acknowledging when people are having a rough week, or when Sally is just not up to par, or when the patient load on John Smith this week has been unusually difficult. As long as you show this empathy towards everyone equally on the floor, I don’t think there is a problem with cutting your friend some slack if this type of situation occurs. You are showing compassion and understanding- but like I said, as long as you show the same compassion to everyone on the floor. You will be better friends with your friends if you leave professional relationships and personal relationships as two distinct entities.

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