Manager of the legal and compliance division at Robert Walters Hong Kong
Friendships should not hold you back
My immediate manager just announced he is leaving and I think the company will look internally for his replacement. I think I’m in a good position to get the promotion, but there is a problem – so is one of my colleagues, who is a close friend. I really want this promotion, but I don’t want to step on my friend’s toes to get it. Can you give me any advice?
This is a common issue most people face several times in their career. The modern workplace is a sociable but professional environment.
As you spend five days a week with your colleagues, you are likely to build friendships that are important to you. However, workplaces are competitive environments, where people look to maximise their potential, realise their goals and further their careers.
Unfortunately, this means you will often be competing with people who have become your friends. That is the reality of the business world and the sooner you can become comfortable with that fact, the better it will be for your future.
While it is important to demonstrate technical ability in your work, it is also essential to show you want to develop professionally. Otherwise, your management may see this as a lack of ambition and you may not get another opportunity.
Professionals respect ambition and drive, so it will not reflect well on you to let someone advance ahead of you because you are concerned about competing with them due to a personal relationship.
You will probably find your colleague, despite valuing your friendship, is also motivated by the promotion.
Be open with your friend; let he or she know you are hoping for the promotion and that you intend that your friendship will be not affected by whoever gets the role.
At the end of the day, performing well in front of your management and demonstrating your ability will benefit your career the most.
You should trust your management to select the best candidate for the position. Your friend should understand the situation and support whatever decision is made.
Not everyone can achieve his or her ambitions, but if you do not try, then you will never know.