Is it acceptable to be friends with your employees?
I am sure you agree that all good managers should get on well with their employees and it would certainly be tricky to inspire a group of people who don’t like you. But should you be friends with them? And if so, what problems could you face and how is it best to avoid them.
Being a friend as well as a boss can make life harder for you, as it can make you feel awkward when you need to discipline the person(s). if you are seen as friends more with one particular person, this can cause other members of staff to feel resentment towards that person and you, feeling they get special treatment etc…. Plus, the person in question may take advantage of your friendship & try to stretch the boundaries…
However, in the majority of freight forwarding offices I have personally worked in and having visited many offices over the last 15 years, I am strong believer that a boss can be friends with their staff, there just has to be an element of professional & personal respect. Let’s face it, we all want to work in a happy, upbeat, positive & friendly environment.
So here are a few tips that could help:
- Remember you’re the boss – stop worrying if you are liked or not. If you try too hard you are likely to come across more insecure than authoritive. You’re the leader and people will respect you much more if you do what needs to be done & to make the company a success. Don’t be afraid to say when something is not right, albeit quality or accuracy of work or the attitude of a certain individual.
- Get to know all of your employees – don’t just make the effort with a certain few, make time & interact with everyone. Getting involved in office gossip is of course a huge no no and make sure you don’t get dragged into it, even unintentionally.
- Social Media – it’s up to you to make the decision of whether it is appropriate or not to add them – but ask yourself, are you ready to have your private life laid bare to them? If it is full of inappropriate images of your shenanigans with your mates on holiday or on Saturday night in town, probably not. The key to remember is you want your employees to respect you. Plus if you friends with one and not another, this could cause problems.
- Don’t overshare your problems – occasionally you will have to listen to an employee’s personal problems. That is all part and parcel of being a supportive manager. However, that doesn’t mean you should share yours with them. I’d always suggest talking to people outside of work when it comes to your personal problems.
So, in summary, my advice would be – be open, understanding & empathetic, but always remember – you are the boss.
All the best,