The Life: Debbie Nicol shares tips on how to remain friends with your buddy and workmate who may end up becoming your boss.
How to stay friends with a promotion rival
A good work friend and I are both applying for the same job. We are both good candidates and could both benefit from the big pay rise that the role offers. However, I am worried that the decision could affect our working relationship and, more importantly, our friendship. While we have been friends for three years, since we both joined the company, if one of us suddenly became the boss I fear our harmonious working style may change. How can we stop the friendship being soured by ambition? BD, Sharjah.
Good morning and wow, you seem rather torn with this issue BD. Most readers would probably agree and label it as "a tough one" and one that they would never wish to handle. That's most people; what about you? I choose to look at it from another angle and not worry about something that hasn't actually happened. I have on many occasions caught myself out worrying ahead of time, only to find there was really no need after all. Can we at times make things too complicated? The choice is yours ... Having said that, when some proactive thinking helps, I ask myself a series of questions always starting with "what matters most?"
1. Be clear on your own priorities
Friendship? Business? Promotion and pay increase? Progression? Change? Self? Others?
Without clarity on your own priorities, everyone else can be factored into decisions, except yourself. Remaining true to ourselves is achievable and also the most important factor here. When I'm in doubt about the degree of consideration to give others (eg the boss who is wanting more overtime, the colleague who requests more assistance than he should or the friend who is going for the same job), I reflect on the likelihood they will appear at my deathbed offering thanks for that specific action. This may seem a little harsh or extreme, yet it does bring me perspective when I need it most.
2. Share your intention clearly, factually and transparently with the other party
My second question focuses on your intention in all of this. Is it to belittle your friend, friendship or co-worker; is it to "win at all costs"; is it to show who is the best? They wouldn't be mine and I'm sure they are not yours either, yet when intentions go unknown or unsaid, there's always room for stories or untruths to emerge.
I might address the other candidate like this: "Regarding the job that we are both being considered for, I am really keen to get ahead in my career as I'm sure you are. While this is important to me, so is our friendship, and my intention is to ensure wherever possible we maintain our great relationship." Someone else may address the situation by saying: "I am really keen to get ahead in my career." I know which one I'd prefer to hear from a friend. And you?
3. Learn to let go of the final outcome
My third question is about the outcome - can I truly influence something which is out of my control? I too have had a similar scenario (if the truth be known, twice in my life when the outcome has seemingly gone against me both times), and in hindsight I can really say that the outcome was for the better after all. I know I couldn't see it at the time, yet there were certainly bigger and better things on the horizon for me. I've witnessed my own mind thinking it knows the best for me yet time and time again, when I've been able to let go (or simply allow things to happen), the solution is one that I had not even considered.
Prepare, communicate, let go and watch how the situation unfolds with both parties firmly placed in the winning seat.
Debbie Nicol, the managing director of the Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at email@example.com for the Workplace Doctor's advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague.