Given My Coworker-Friend’s Job

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about stress caused by being assigned to a coworker-friend’s job:

I am covering for my coworker who is out for 6 weeks. We have became really great friends over the last year. I was approached by our boss and was told/offered my friends job. I do like the job. My friend has complained about the job for 2 years. But they are making me take it. I know my friend is going to feel like I stabbed her in the back and not have anything to do with me. I don’t know what to do. Our boss said they are offering her another position but she will not like it. She is the type of person to complain about the job but doesn’t really want to leave it. She can be very narcissistic.

I can’t eat and I’m having trouble sleeping because of the anxiety. I don’t want to lose her friendship at all but I don’t have a choice and this position would give me job security (I have children to put first). I want to go to her and tell her about what is going on but I don’t want her to go off on our boss and cost me my job because I talked to her before our boss did. I’m at a loss any help would be greatly appreciated! Sorry if it was very confusing.

Signed–Need the Promotion But Don’t Want to Lose a Friend

Dear Don’t Want to Lose a Coworker-Friend:

Thank you for sharing this stressful situation you are experiencing. Just covering for a coworker is difficult enough without being told you will replace her.

Associate Workplace Doctor Tina Lewis Rowe had planned to respond to your question as soon as she can. Just now she’s immersed in a major project; therefore, I send these thoughts until and if she sends hers.

It seems to me you have answered your question: you have been doing your coworker friend’s job during the six weeks she is off and are apparently doing it well. You will probably lose her friendship, but don’t want to. You hope her friendship is strong enough that she will understand you have little choice but to follow your superior’s orders to take her job. You know she complained about it and now this is an opportunity for her to work at something else. You are worried about informing her of this change in position.

You shouldn’t have to be the one to tell her. You should confide to your boss your worry that your friend will blame of you and raise hell. You should tell your boss how pleased you are that she/he is satisfied with your work, so much so that management’s decided to replace your coworker-friend. The boss should realize you now are distressed and are worried your coworker friend will not take this lightly. Therefore, you should request that the boss inform her both in writing and by phone, understanding how difficult this will be for both of you.

Management’s job is to assign employees to work in positions that are good for the company. Employees are expected to do what is assigned and to accommodate to management’s assignments to the best of their ability, at least to give them a fair try. Your coworker-friend, possibly ex-friend, should realize this. You might have to steel yourself to her animosity, but you should not take the blame for how she feels and responds. You might be able to find some things you can enjoy together outside the workplace if your friendship is real.

Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and sometimes working relationships must change to make that happen. Please know that these thoughts are made from a distance and that we understand you will apply them only if they fit your situation.

William Gorden