Drawing the Line between Boss and Friend: Setting Appropriate Boundaries in the Workplace

Building relationships is an important part of a successful career. When you spend a significant portion of your time at the workplace, you are likely to develop a close bond with the people you see day in and day out. Having a friendly relationship with your employees can contribute to their overall job satisfaction and a positive corporate culture. But when your relationship with your employees is more like a buddy than a boss, you can encounter some challenges. For example, if the line between friend and boss is often blurred, it can be difficult to give critiques, stay objective and make tough decisions. It is important to keep that distinction between boss and friend so your employees respect your authority and you don’t risk the productivity and success of your business. Here are some tips and best practices for maintaining the boundary between boss and employees.

Be Fair
It’s completely normal to have a better chemistry with some personalities over others, but be sure to not play favorites in the office. Employees should be judged on their job performance only. If an employee is not performing his or her job duties, you need to address the issue as a supervisor. Showing favoritism by bending the rules for one person can lead to a drop in morale among the rest of the team. Personal friendships should not influence how you manage your staff, including choices for raises, layoffs, promotions or assignments.

Be the Boss
This can be a common challenge, especially when a peer is promoted to a manager and begins overseeing former co-workers. It may be difficult to hold your friends accountable and critique their work, but a good leader is one who challenges employees to grow their skill set and recognizes and rewards good performance. While being a boss that overlooks tasks and deadlines in favor of socializing may be fun in the short term, you aren’t going to be taken seriously as a leader in the long run. If your employees aren’t growing professionally and are not challenged by their work, they are likely to seek out opportunities elsewhere.

Be Discreet
No matter how close you are with your employees, resist disclosing confidential information or using them as a sounding board for frustrating workplace issues. It may be tempting to give employees the inside scoop or vent to someone you consider a friend, but it is better to seek out a peer who may be able to offer advice instead of putting your employees in this position.

Be Social, but in Moderation
Many workplaces offer opportunities for socializing including happy hours, birthdays, holiday parties or industry events. Be sure to socialize with everyone, not just the people you have a close relationship with to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and included. As boss or manager, you also may want to keep alcohol to consumption to a minimum, as it’s important to act professional in workplace social situations. The best managers are well-respected in addition to being well-liked.

Celebrating success

Be Aware of Social Media Pitfalls
Requesting to connect or accepting a friend request from your employees on social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram is not recommended. Many use these social networks to share personal opinions, updates or photos. Sharing too much personal information has the potential to negatively affect your professional reputation. There are also potential legal issues that could arise from gaining personal information about your employees. Professional networks such as LinkedIn may be a better option for maintaining a connection with your employees.

For more information on how Oasis can assist your company in navigating this or any other area of Human Resources, contact Oasis Outsourcing at 866-AT-OASIS (866-286-2747) or visit us online at www.oasisadvantage.com.

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