While it’s essential to build solid bonds with your team and colleagues, defining areas of respect, authority and productivity can be challenging when navigating the line between boss and friend.
The idea of friendship applies as much to our professional lives as it does to our personal ones. As a leader, managers and bosses have to be careful of the way they conduct themselves with their employees. There are lines that should not be crossed, for a variety of reasons. If you are a boss or manager, it’s all about balance when it comes to becoming friends with your employees. But how do you navigate the fine line of being a friend who also must set boundaries as a boss?
Why You Can’t Be Best Friends – When you are leading a team, you have more responsibilities. Those responsibilities include making tough decisions and evaluating employees.
Fairness is Important – As a leader, you need to avoid any perception of favoritism, and helping out a friend at work is the definition of favoritism. Employees notice favoritism almost instantly and the resentment starts building up fast.
Tough Decisions are Inevitable – When you’re friends with an employee, you have a hard time seeing existing flaws or setting your personal feelings aside when necessary. Your friendship with an employee should never influence your decisions about raises, assignments, and layoffs.
Evaluations are Necessary – All managers evaluate and challenge their employees. It’s a part of the job. If you befriend someone at work, they might get the impression that they are above evaluation and discipline.
Striking a Balance
It is up to you to find a balance between being friendly with your employees and being a good manager to them. The good news is that you don’t have to be cold to your employees in order to establish authority. Be an equally good mentor to all your employees and show empathy for them. Challenge them and show that you care about their careers and personal lives. There are lines that can and must be drawn. Here are a few things you can do to find the correct balance.
Be Supportive – Friends want the best for each other. The same goes for your team. If they are going through a difficult time, show them you are willing to help and give them advice.
Be Honest – Honesty is one of the best principles you can use to establish a healthy balance between caring for your employees and leading them professionally.
Be Trusting and Understanding – Trust builds friendships, but it also builds healthy and productive relationships between bosses and staff. When you trust your employees, you inevitably give them more freedom.