DEAR ABBY: I am a female supervisor of a staff of 30. My friend "Diane," who is also the office manager, is my problem. She constantly entertains personal calls and is very loud. She's a smart lady, but her work isn't up to par. (She knows her job, but does it "at her convenience.") Diane is also very bitter because she hasn't received a promotion. She had been told many times by the head of the department and by me to curtail her personal calls and to be more careful with her work.
Recently I was forced to take a lengthy medical leave. Diane was wonderful, calling and coming to visit. But I have recently returned to work, and my boss has asked me to talk to her again about the antics I mentioned. I'm afraid if I do so, I'll damage our friendship. Please tell me how to diplomatically approach her. -- BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, BRONX, N.Y.
DEAR BETWEEN: As a supervisor, your first responsibility must be to handle the problems with the staff you supervise. While you are on duty, that responsibility must take priority over personal friendships, which are after-hours relationships.
Explain to your co-worker/friend that while you don't want to jeopardize the friendship, counseling your staff is part of your job. Tell Diane that you are calling her unacceptable practices to her attention so that she can meet company standards necessary for her to be successful. If you are tactful, she should be able to distinguish between your work relationship and your personal one.