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Disciplining a subordinate who is also a friend


Ive been asked by a manager for some tips or best practice in how he can discipline someone who is also a mate - the manager has been promoted from the team and is nervous of having to discipline informally
Does any one have any ideas or can point me to somewhere that covers the issue
Many thanks
Krista Powell Edwards

3 Responses

  1. define “discipline”
    Hi Krista
    I’ll assume since the manager is hoping to do this “informally” that there isn’t actually an intention to make this “disciplinary” but more of a performance management discussion of an assertive but non formal nature.

    Virtually every manager will start at this level with any subordinate whose performance is less than satisfactory (and here inappropriate behaviour is a performance issue as well unless it is so grossly inappropriate that one goes straight to disciplinary.)

    If this is the case then following the fairly standard assertive approach to innappropriate behaviour will probably be the managers best tack.

    You should be able to find plenty of material available if you search for “assertiveness” or “perfrmance management”

    I hope this helps

  2. Team meeting
    Hi Krista

    Maybe your friend should start his new position by calling a team meeting. In this meeting he could outline the changes in his job role so that all employees now understand that his position has now changed. Does he have reason to think that his “mate” will need to be talked to informally?

  3. Helping a friend
    It is difficult to give specific guidance without details of the nature of the issue. However, here are my thoughts on some basic principles which might help -and like Rus I am also assuming that this is not a formal discipline but is informal counselling. Your manager needs to be clear about his overall purpose and hopefully, to be sincere in his motivation – which is presumably to help the employee (his friend) to perform to the required standard. He needs to be clear about what is not acceptable at the moment and specific about what is acceptable, what needs to happen going forward. His method of delivery needs to be assertive and supportive. His prior knowledge of his friend will help him to position the guidance in a way which is received and understood – this means thinking about what will work best with his ‘friend’, which is not necessarily what would work for him. He must be prepared for the fact that ‘his friend’ may not receive this positively – this may be the first assertion of the changed working relationship which can be difficult – however, if he continues to be assertive and supportive, sincere in his purpose and provides objective guidance and feedback he has a higher chance of success. He also needs to remember that his friend has choices about how he/she reacts. Trust this helps.


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