Being business friendly

3.5 Being Friendly versus Being Friends for Difficult Conversations (LO3.5)Kasper Rorsted, CEO of Henkel, a consumer and industrial prod-ucts company based in Düsseldorf, Germany, recently talked about the first time he had to be someone else’s boss:[I first became someone else’s boss] in 1989, right when I got promoted from being a sales rep in the Digital Equipment Corporation to being a sales manager at the age of 27. I had about 20 people at that point in time. All but two of them were older than I was. When you’re 27, you’re inexperienced, so you don’t know what to fear. I didn’t know what I probably should have known. The first time I realized it was serious was when, after about six months, I had to lay somebody off. And then suddenly you move from the sunny side of the deal to the real deal. I remember I was sleeping very poorly for almost a week. He had a family.So one of the lessons I learned from that, which I’ve been very aware of since, is to be friendly, but not a friend. I had grown up in the company and I knew everybody, so I was more a friend. But then I had to start having honest conversations with people about how they performed, and that taught me a lesson. I’ve always been friendly but never been friends anymore. When we have parties, I’m the one who will leave early.

Based on Rorsted’s comments, answer the following questions:

A. What do you think Rorsted means that he could “be friendly, but not a friend” once he became a boss and had to have difficult conversations with others?

B. Do you agree with his perspective about being friendly versus being friends? Do you think being friends makes having honest conversations in the workplace more difficult? Explain.

C. How can a person prepare for the difficult conversations necessary as one becomes a boss or supervisor?

Sample Solution

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