I have recently become my colleague's Team Lead.

Within a week of being in the post, I have been asked to address some issues (performance) that were found with her work. The colleague and I are very close.

While I have no issues addressing the matter, which have been confirmed, I wonder how I might delicately broach the matter, within the next week, and preserve the friendship/professional relationship/superior/subordinate.

I am very professional but one can never foresee how someone might reacts to concerns or corrections.


Clearly identify the performance issues. Identify performance goals. Put it in writing. Talk with them about how to to get to the performance goals.

As far as approaching them just tell them there are performance issues that need to be corrected. A friend should understand you have a job to perform.


I am very professional but one can never foresee how someone might reacts to concerns or corrections.

If you are professional then you don't need to worry.

Your evaluation and talk with this person will be strictly professional; it does not have anything to do with the fact that you are close to each other.

Also, this person has no reason to take this personally, as it is simply a matter of performance and job-related situations. As long as you keep it polite and avoid putting emotions to it everything should run smoothly.

  • 1
    Yeah, people don't always work that way. Sometimes emotions jump in. – Jim Clay Sep 4 '18 at 19:37
  • @JimClay well, if one is not completely professional surely emotions can jump in... If emotions jump is because that person is not completely professional as they took it personally. – DarkCygnus Sep 4 '18 at 19:39
  • Begin in a friendly manner and outline what the person is doing right.
  • Don't put these in terms of "issues", but as "areas of focus"

Hi Jane. I wanted to go over a few things with you. First, I just wanted to thank you for all the work you've done on the widget project. Great work!!! Also, in my new position as lead, I have been asked to make a few adjustments. Management would like to see a higher throughput of wazzits, and I'm going to need your help. We need to increase your throughput of wazzits to meet our goals.

The most important thing to remember is. ADDRESS THE ISSUE, NOT THE PERSON

Remember, in addressing the issues, you are helping your colleague preserve her job. This doesn't have to be adversarial. You can include phrases like.

Let me know what I can do to help you meet these targets.

or something similar. You want to present this as an opportunity, not as disciplinary action.

  • I think there is more to this answer than your modest bullet points. " I have been asked...", "Management would like ...", "We need to...", "what I can do to help you ..." This is fantastic framing and persuasion. – paulj Sep 4 '18 at 19:00

Focus on the issues, and point out what they're doing wrong or can improve upon. Rather than saying things like Your really bad at coding, say something more along the lines of you tend to write code that has O(n) run time when a O(Log(n)) solution exists, let me give you the following example (go through an example).

Provide examples, and show situations where they didn't perform well and then demonstrate what could have been done instead and offer suggestions. Don't make statements that point to performance problems, rather demonstrate them with examples. This way they'll understand what they need to improve upon and have a clear and laid out plan of how to do so.

  • 1
    We don't know this is software. – paparazzo Aug 29 '18 at 21:07
  • Its only an example, the takeaway here is to focus on the specifics and not to make blanket statements – TheM00s3 Aug 30 '18 at 1:29

The answers that tell you to be completely objective and professional, because that is how you are supposed to perform your job, are spot-on.

However, I can't help but feel that the personal aspect is being skirted a bit.

If you do your part correctly, if the other person is completely professional, it should go smoothly, perhaps, but when talking about someone's job, their career, and their ability to earn a living in a way that is not positive, people often take that emotionally and personally, even if, objectively, they shouldn't. One reason is because we're human. Another reason might be that, if you're dealing with someone who has professionalism or performance issues, that is sometimes a result of them not being as objectively professional in their jobs as they could be.

I only mention this because I don't want you to see answers that say "you do your part, and it will be fine," and then you get blind-sided if it doesn't go well.

How does that change your preparation? It doesn't. You being professional insulates you from adverse results about as well as you can be insulated. The degree to which your friend might not be able to separate that friendship from professional duties, or recognize that your new role requires you to do this, is something that you can't really control. In that regard, it does you no good to try and manage something outside of your control (their reaction), beyond doing the best you can with the part that you can control.


This is tough because you value your friendship so you need to address your friend, "As Lead, I have been requested to address your performance". This puts any percieved negativty both on your boss's request and on your position, and hopefully not you personally. Just be clear when you bring it up that it is your job requesting something of your friend's job. As others have answered, it may be best to keep to the facts and in writing. Keep the duration of that conversation within those professional boundaries.

Perhaps a good way to go about this is to try and get her to come up with solutions. Ask her how she would handle things in your position.

Since you didn't specify the kind of personality your friend has or your prediction of her demeaner during this conversation, I stongly recommend considering where she fits in DISC personality chart:

DISC Behavior Types

It can show how people tend to behave and prefer to interact with others and the world around them both at thier best performance and under duress. It might help to approach her within that framework and how to address behavior issues during a difficult conversation. Will she argue the facts? Is she results focused? Overly emotional and caring deeply of other's feelings? Knowing what she prefers going in will help, but, again, keep the conversation in a professional context.


When it is a friend do it in a friendly manner and try and help. So go in with solutions not just problems. Depending on the relationship it could range from:-

'I have been asked by XXX to talk talk to you about YYY issue, here's how I think it needs to be resolved.....'


'Bro, XXX is in my face because you did YYY, how about you pull your finger out and do it properly like ZZZ so I don't have to deal with this crap......'

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