There is a distinct line between being a boss and being a friend. That line can become blurry as a relationship develops and turns into something less professional. Can a boss also be a friend to his or her employees? Sure, but that isn’t the right question. Instead we must ask, Should a boss be a friend to his or her employee?
Being friends with your employees presents many situations that may cause problems in the workplace. When performance is unsatisfactory, it may become difficult to address the issue head-on. When communication is too casual, it may become difficult to reintroduce a professional dialogue. Loyalty and friendship notwithstanding, there comes a point when it is no longer possible to accept poor work and insubordination.
Business Owners must put the growth and stability of the company first and foremost. Personal relationships with employees, though not wholly undesirable, should be curtailed for the good of the company.
Here are five suggestions for how to maintain the line between being a boss and being a friend:
Restrict the time that you spend with your employees to normal office hours. It is fine to participate in company happy hours, for example, but only if you include everyone in the outing. While you might appreciate the bonding during out off hours, it can sometimes lead to awkward conversations that are too personal and intimate. If you recognize a social situation moving in that direction, politely excuse yourself.
Singling out a particular employee because of your shared relationship will lead to resentment on the part of other employees. It is important to maintain camaraderie with the whole team without appearing as if you’re limiting your time to only a few people. Consider the morale of the entire company and not just the happiness of smaller groups or individuals.
It sounds simple enough but poor work should not be ignored. All employees should be held to the same high standards for quality performance and production. No one should receive preferential treatment when they do not perform their work in a satisfactory manner.
Each employee should have an equal opportunity to work on key projects and assignments. Being an effective boss means assigning tasks fairly with the goal being the best quality work. Giving the most interesting or important work to just a few employees will undermine the drive and ambition of the rest of the staff.
Be rigorous about the guidelines for compensation and incentives. Monetary rewards and raises must be based on sound business decisions, NOT on personal feelings.
Remember, as a Business Owner and a Boss you are looking for respect and recognition for your leadership and business accomplishments. Being a friend to your employees can muddy the waters especially when difficult decisions must be made.
Your human capital is one of your biggest and best assets. Be supportive of all your employees, establish and maintain firm boundaries, and you will create a more cohesive work environment for all.
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 935-5641.