There are several rewards to being the boss, being the one at the helm of affairs whom everyone looks up to. But sometimes, it could get lonely at the top. You might want to have a good chat with your employees or share a laugh now and then, but are worried about the effect it would have on their work. As a boss, you might be confused as regards how to handle being friends with the staff. While there are no laws that state you can’t be friends with your workers, there are a few guidelines you should consider before getting close to one or more of your employees.
Determining where to draw the line when it comes to being friends with the staff can be tricky and studies show that majority of people admit to being uncomfortable when their bosses friend them on social media. This discomfort is understandable when you consider the several instances where inappropriate social media posts have had negative repercussions in the workplace. Our relationships with our colleagues at work greatly impacts our work lives: more than half of employees who have between six and twenty-five friends at work admit to loving their companies (compared to the fraction who don’t have friends at work). In other words, good relationships with our coworkers have the potential to make us more productive. So how exactly do we go about maintaining the right balance? Are bosses allowed to be friends with the staff? Here are a few tips to consider:
Keep it extra casual: Making friends with the staff can be a consolation for the loneliness you might feel as the boss, but keep in mind that there’s still a job to do and that getting too close to your staff will make it extremely awkward when it’s time to put them in check. One place to avoid connecting with staff is on certain social media platforms. If you want to express yourself without inhibition on one platform, use a different one to connect professionally. It’s ill advised to be friends with the staff on social media because it could have numerous negative effects. Your reputation in the work place can easily be tarnished by a single inappropriate photo. LinkedIn is a good option to connect professionally, because that’s its primary function. Instagram is a definite no. Though this might mean you miss out on some fun times and good friends, but it would make things that much easier when it’s time to be the boss.
Zero favouritism: One side effect of being friends with the staff is that it leads to suspicion of favouritism. Even if there is no ground to the rumours which may be flying around, this sort of friendship could lead to accusations of nepotism in the workplace. When salary raises are involved, be sure to keep your relationships with staff strictly professional. If you are in doubt as to whether or not you’re actually playing favourites, ask yourself if you will be able to give an honest review of a friend’s work, even if it makes them lose their job eventually. If your answer is no, then it’s time to put some office boundaries and distance yourself from them. Your business comes first, every other relationship in the workplace is secondary to that. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate all close relationships with your staff. Surveys show that over 90% of workers believe that workplace friends are important. If managed properly, friends at work can make the office even more enjoyable and give your productivity a boost when you need it most.
Find a middle ground: Being distant, but cordial is a safe middle ground. If you are authoritarian and show no interest whatsoever in your employees, you will not be respected or liked by them. On the other hand, being friends with the staff could have even worse consequences. Know your staff individually and relate with them cordially while keeping in mind that you are their boss, not their buddies. This is a safe middle ground that will earn you your team’s respect while also making it easier to call them to order.