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Is it acceptable to be friends with your employees? 5 Management Tips

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I’m sure you’ll agree that good managers should always get on with the rest of their team.

I mean, it would be pretty difficult to inspire a group of people who don’t even like you…

But can (and should) you really be friends? And if so, what dangers will you face?

Today, we’ll be going over some great management tips to help you out.

There’s a fine line.

We all remember The Office, that painfully acute window into the British working world.

David Brent tried so hard to be the boss that everybody loved and it backfired, horribly.

That’s partially because Brent was socially inept, but it’s also because he was so desperate to make friends that he sacrificed everything else: including respect, authority and productivity.

There really is a very fine line – and many managers struggle with it.

So what are the dangers?

So this is the issue…

If you get very close to a member of staff then it is very easy to favour them and treat them differently to other people. And that means that:

  • You could feel too awkward and/or worried to discipline them when (if) the time comes.
  • The person in question may well take advantage of their situation.
  • Other staff members will feel resentment towards you and that person.
  • Everyone, including your “friend” will eventually lose respect for you and it’s a very slippery slope.

Basically, that friendship could cause distrust and disengagement across the wider team, affecting productivity and your bottom line. This will affect your business and undoubtedly your career.

New managers, in particular, can struggle to find a balance.

So, we have some management tips that could help:

1. Remember you’re the boss.

Stop worrying about whether you’re liked or not because if you try too hard, then you’re likely to come across insecure and insincere.

You are a leader and you are the boss and people will respect you much more if you do what needs to be done (without acting like a tyrant).

And anyway, if you don’t set a standard, then when it does come to disciplining someone, your employees will feel even more betrayed.

By all means be friends with your employees, but make sure they know that you are the boss. Don’t shy away from taking the lead and don’t be afraid to say when something’s not right.

2. Get to know all of your employees.

If you’re going to make the effort with certain staff members, make sure you extend that courtesy to everyone in your team – don’t play favourites.

Make sure you include everyone in special events, as well as the little things, like going out for lunch.

Recruiter Pro Tip

I’m sure you don’t even need to hear this, but office gossip is a HUGE no-no.

If you are ever privy to it, the best thing to do is tell the person that it is inappropriate and leave the conversation. You don’t want to get dragged into anything.

And you don’t want to be accused of favouritsm.

If you can’t do this, then maybe you need to consider whether you should be friends with anyone in your team, in the first place.

3. Consider social media.

I’m not going to tell you not to add people on social media, but you need to ask yourself: are you ready to have your private life laid bare to them?

If your profile is full of inappropriate pictures and silly statuses, then probably not.

Remember, you want your employees to respect you – and that’s going to be difficult if they’ve seen videos of you downing a pint or photos of you in ridiculous situations.

4. Beware of special favours.

Every employee needs a little understanding now and again.

But if you find yourself consistently changing the routine or covering for one member of staff, then that could be seen as special treatment.

You need to make sure you keep a balance. A little give here and you could end up devoting your entire day to special requests as other employees seek to balance the scales.

Use your common sense with this; what constitutes extenuating circumstances? And how much leeway can you realistically give?

5. Don’t overshare your problems.

Occasionally you will have to listen to an employee’s personal problems. That’s all part and parcel of being a supportive manager.

But that doesn’t mean you should share back.

Sure, you might find that employee feels supported because you share back. But you might also find that you become the subject of office gossip and lose respect too.

I’d always suggest talking to people outside of work when it comes to your personal problems.

Summary

You should strive to form a bond with your staff, but the truth is that there are just too many risks and too few rewards for you to get really (really) close to them…

So be open, be understanding and be empathetic, but always remember that you are the boss.

Maintaining a professional balance is the key to this.

Or if you’d like to read more on this topic, check out these great resources:

Good luck.


Category: Leadership, Management

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