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Can bosses and employees be friends?


The idea of friendship applies as much to our personal lives as it does to our professional ones. In new data, Instant Offices looks into the implications and shares some tips on how to be a boss and a friend.

In terms of the benefits, a lot has been spoken about the increased levels of trust, loyalty and support that result from a close working/personal relationship. Not only is communication increased, but also the level of happiness coming in to work on a Monday morning.

ALSO READ: Friends before co-workers: Why you should encourage office friendships

However, despite these benefits, these are some of the common challenges when transitioning from friend to boss:

  1. Inconsistency: It’s tough stepping in to reprimand a friend, but it’s important to maintain consistency across the board.
  2. Taking sides: Jumping to the defence of a friend is easy to do, but as the boss, it’s your responsibility to be impartial, and look at the whole picture before making decisions.
  3. Resentment: Other colleagues may find it hard to respect your new position and test the boundaries. It’s important to communicate to everyone what the boundaries are.
  4. Oversharing: As the boss, you should be able to speak freely and share frustrations with friends but beware of oversharing sensitive company information.
  5. Blaming: Having a friend you can trust at work is great for support, but don’t take frustrations out on them in the hopes that they can take it better than the rest of the team.
  6. Exhaustion: It can become emotionally draining to maintain the care-free friend persona while juggling stress, other work relationships and valuable business goals.

bosses versus friends


Instant Offices suggests the following 10 ways to be the boss and a friend:

  1. Talk about the ‘power shift’: Acknowledging the dynamics is the first step. Don’t assume the uneasiness will disappear if you ignore it, or that the change in roles will balance itself out.
  2. Be fair: Stay consistent in your treatment of everyone so that no one feels betrayed by any seemingly special favours.
  3. Get to know all your employees: Personal preferences shouldn’t get in the way of cultivating good relationships with employees, so try to get to know everyone.
  4. Avoid gossip: Gossip between two colleagues is one thing but as the boss, it’s your job to avoid this completely and know when to step away or speak up.
  5. Find someone else to talk to: It goes without saying that as the boss, you’re privy to more information than anyone else. So find a suitable peer, rather than friend, to discuss such matters.
  6. Be okay with not being liked: You’re not always going to be popular. Resolve conflict where you can but always remember that it’s up to you to make the tough decisions.
  7. Don’t always take yourself too seriously: Just because you’re the boss it doesn’t mean you can’t take some downtime with your team to unwind and relax.
  8. Mind your language: It’s easy to fall into friend mode with employees you’re close to but remember at work it’s important to also command respect, so you must find a balance.
  9. Hire the right people: Invest in a solid recruitment strategy to employ people who naturally understand and can navigate the line between friend and boss without pushing the boundaries.
  10. Don’t cross the line: Six in 10 managers say they are uncomfortable being friended on Facebook by their bosses or the employees they oversee, so be aware of everyone's dynamics.

Infographic / Instant Offices Photo / StockUnlimited

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