Promotion Hazards

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about competing for a promotion against a coworker friend: I know that it will be great to be in that position but I would sacrifice a friend in the workplace.

Recently my manager wants me to interview to be her assistant manager. That sounds great to me and not just for any sort of raise. However, I have a friend who is one level above me in command but he is a friend who’s wanted this position for a while now. My boss told me that he is going up for this position too even though she isn’t going to tell him until a week before hand. I am confident in my ability of doing the job and feel that I have a good chance at getting it. But that means I may surpass my friend. Either way I am at least interviewing for the position. My friend has issues with our subordinates and customers in general, but I am the opposite of him in that aspect. He is better at procedural things and projects than I am. So it seems even in different ways to me. But should I take the job if I get it?

I know that it will be great to be in that position but I would sacrifice a friend in the workplace. His reaction would be very shut down and angry with me, obviously. It’s a weird situation, but now I know why there are fraternizing policies. What’s your take? Should I take it if offered or deny it so my friend can be happy? He does need the money more than I do. Thank you.

Signed, Conflicted

Dear Conflicted:

You are indeed conflicted. You have been careful to evaluate the pros and cons of your core question: Should I take job if I get it? You say you will interview for the job, and if offered and you have decided not to take the job, what will you give as an excuse? And how will you be viewed by your manager, who invited you to take the job and even said she would not make known to your friend the position was open until only a week before it is decided?

You say your friend, who is one level above you, also will interview for the job. You think your friend will be hurt and angry if you get the job rather than him. You also acknowledge that he is better in task work but has some people difficulties and you are better than he will people.

It seems to me that you have decided to take the job if it is offered and that you want suggestions on how to soften the hurt/anger of your friend. You don’t say how close you are to this “friend”, but a true friend running a race with you would want the best runner to win. You are aware that who gets a job is not purely based on competence. Comparing job candidates’ different competence is not a clear-cut simple matter.So you can keep quiet and not gossip about interviewing for the position with your friend and let the chips fall as they do. Or you can be up front with him about it; to speak frankly with him about how you are uneasy about doing so because you don’t want to hurt his chances and to lose his friendship.

True friends confer about their career paths and do what the can to help each other. Should you two have that kind of friendship learning about new opportunities would be exciting. Making career decisions that are sometimes uncomfortable is par for the course. The caring/ethical aspect of decision-making is to not climb over others and it is obvious that you don’t want to do that.

Getting this particular assistant position can best be seen as not a zero-sum, but rather as the two of you moving at different paces and not only as striving for one competing prize. The challenge for your friend and you is to see the big picture and the varied opportunities within and external to your present jobs. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and this thought should have special meaning for you, as you now are conflicted. If you weren’t conflicted about this, that would worry me. But can you see conflict as an opportunity for clarifying your values and even as a challenge to working though it in a creative way?

William Gorden