Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hey Fletch … I have a dilemma. It’s a strange problem and I’m struggling with it. As the XP, I am both a close friend and supervisor to a staff member. As a friend, I don’t want to say some things that need to be said. As a supervisor, I need the person to improve. See my problem?

DRF—I hear you on this. The problem can be sourced in our modern definition of a friend. We often think of friends as those who we enjoy being with, tell us what we want to hear and have a good time hanging out with. Two of those are fine things. The “telling us what we want to hear,” is the source of your issue.

Proverbs 27:6 says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive” (NET Bible). The ancient words have direct application to your situation. Your fear is that if you wound a friend, that you will lose them. Fear is holding you back from sharing your thoughts as a supervisor.

In truth, you are in a great place to speak to your friend. You know them and they trust you. What you share may be the first time that they hear a challenging perspective about their role or performance. A true friend will share those things, whether they are their supervisor or not.

I would suggest that you have a gentle, yet firm, conversation with your friend and subordinate. Ask God for wisdom for the right words before the discussion. When together, convey your fear about what you are going to share. Let them know that because of your friendship and love for them, that you are willing to risk the conversation. Give plenty of positives about them and their role, then share your concerns. Listen for their response and schedule a followup conversation. Pray with them.