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For the past two months I have been working as an operations management intern for a retail company in one of their stores. Previous to this, I have had no retail experience and did not have any professional managerial experience. Thus, I looked to those around me for advice and help in everything that I needed to learn. The problem is that now that I have learned the basics and am now in a position of leadership, I find it difficult to know where to draw the line between being a friend and being in position of management. I feel that I am slightly too passive and need to be more assertive, but I also don’t want to go overboard. I have never had this problem before and somewhat attribute it to having changed in a very short time from the person whom they taught and still teach the basics to, to the person who delegates responsibility to them. In addition, because I am still learning, I am often indecisive when making decisions. Therefore, I check it over before making a decision and it seems as though I do not have the authority to make decisions on my own.
The more time I spend there, the better the situation becomes. However, I would like to know if there is anything that I should change in my behavior that could make me a more effective and assertive communicator. I understand that this is a very difficult situation to advise on, and would appreciate any help in this matter.
Thank you.

Mark's picture

If you think you're too passive, you probably are. I don't think there's any magic bullet for learning what is too much, but I do know it is NOT too much when the first person says, "hey, you used to be my peer, I don't have to do that." Just because folks push back doesn't mean you've gone too far.

There's nothing incompatible about being friendly and demanding high standards. Note the distinction, though..."being friendly", versus "friends" or "friendship". Friendly behavior means warmth, caring, pleasantness, respect, communication. Friendship has little place in a senior-direct relationship, though. Friendship is favors and favoritism and unprofessional.

Keep being assertive, and do it with a smile. If you never raise your voice, or speak ill or rudely to anyone, you could probably go all the way to hearing from your boss to tone it down.

That would be just a bit too far.

Mark

yoniney's picture

Thank you very much for your time and advice Mark.

I will definitely keep in mind the distinction between "being friendly" and "friends" as I work to become more assertive.

itilimp's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]There's nothing incompatible about being friendly and demanding high standards. Note the distinction, though..."being friendly", versus "friends" or "friendship". Friendly behavior means warmth, caring, pleasantness, respect, communication. Friendship has little place in a senior-direct relationship, though. Friendship is favors and favoritism and unprofessional.[/quote]

THANK YOU for this statement. It's really driven home the difference and shown me where I have been a friend instead of being friendly. It's going down in my 'Horstman's Quotes' ;)

ctomasi's picture

I too need to keep that "friendly" v. "friends" in mind more often. Many of my DRs are my friends from way back when. We were peers until a few months ago. Now I've had to watch what I say, how I say it, how it is interpreted, and many more perception things while at work (and out of work.)

Maintaining the friendship is trickier now.

PierG's picture

Great post: it makes me think a lot.
Let me try to extend / force a little bit the concept.
Suppouse I have a peer that is also a friend. We know each other, our kids play together and so on.
One day he becomes the boss, and I become one of his directs.
Do you guys suggest to slow down the 'friendship' side of our rapport?
Because well, if we are really friends, there will be moment in which he will have to be a boss and no matter how professional we are, something will 'break'.
PierG

ctomasi's picture

Pier,

Great thoughts. A little more information... my former boss is also my friend. I knew him for years before bringing him in to the company as a peer. He did well and became my boss. We knew what to keep personal and what to keep professional. I know my long time friend and direct is the same way.

To be honest, the personal relationship often made the O3s much easier.

I've seen it from both sides now and suppose I'm just articulating to make sure I have some clear guidelines in my head.

Thank you again.