I Have a Bond with My Coworker, but She Doesn't Do Her Job

Your Corporate Black Girl

Dear Nikki,

I’m struggling with my black female staff employee. She doesn’t do her job and I noticed this before I was promoted because I was carrying the majority of the staff weight on my back. During the time that we became close as we spent a lot of time together in and out of the office due to the nature of our jobs. Now that I’m her boss, I’m struggling with how to tell her she needs to step up her leadership skills. She oversees a small staff and there’s no discipline within its group. People come in late, miss shifts, etc. She has yet to fire anyone or discipline although there have been multiple incidents. How can I tell this coworker, without damaging the bond that we have, that she needs to do better before she is let go at FY? I want to remain tactful and have good rapport in the office but I’m afraid she will take it personal because of how close we had gotten.




Although you've gained a working friendship with her, she still has a job to perform and if she's not performing or meeting your expectations as her manager, then this is just a standard performance issue and this is how you have to treat it.  I know you're concerned about the friendship, but you have a job to do and her job is to ultimately make you look good to your higher-ups. The better she performs, the better you look. 

Managing people means you have to learn to navigate different people and situations that aren't comfortable but at the end of the day (I hate that phrase!), it's about the work being done. The relationships we form along the way, although they're great to have, are secondary.

First things first, you've got to set realistic goals (your expectations) for her that will set her along the right path, having regular status meetings to check her progress. Do this by setting up a regular calendar meeting with her and let her set the agenda for the meetings. 

• If she cancels, document that. 
• If she keeps the meeting, then document what was discussed and any follow up items that were mentioned. 

This not only keeps her accountable, but it allows you to document her performance on a regular basis, so there are no surprises when you have to deliver a difficult message. 

This is how you can start to form the conversation about how she's not meeting your expectations. 

The goal with any of your employees is to try to guide their careers in the right direction, and you do that by setting the expectations and giving them short term goals to meet.  

Your goal is to set her and anyone that works for you, up for success.  Only after you've laid this groundwork can you begin to discuss how or where she's lacking. You're giving them a chance to correct the behavior and then addressing the performance concerns. 

You've got this! Try not to overthink it or put your feelings into it. It's her career. Either she wants the job or she's ready to move on. It's just that simple.  It's not personal. 

All the best!

Nikki Davis

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Your curly girl manager, just trying to live her happiest life! 

Wife, new mom, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. with 11 years industry experience, 6 years of management experience. Manager a team of men in a male dominant industry, while being the only woman on the team. DIY fashion blogger, a self taught seamstress. Owner/Creator of a monthly subscription service, SewConscious.com

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