As a business owner, you walk a fine line between boss and friend. While you want to be approachable and have a company culture that’s friendly, you can’t have your employees be your closest friends. Being too close to your staff will blur your authority, breed favoritism, and make it difficult to fire people; but not being friendly will make for a cold working environment. How do you manage this social dynamic?
Recognize the Situation
The first step is to evaluate the situation by asking yourself if there are any employees that you may have gotten too close to. If you haven’t set up boundaries in order to guard yourself against such situations, then you probably have certain members of your staff that you’re overly chummy with. Don’t be down on yourself if you’re in this predicament. It’s only natural to form close bonds with people that you spend a lot time with.
Remember Who’s the Boss
One of the main problems with the boss-friend relationship is that, when push comes to shove and you need to correct or reproach an employee that you’re close to, they might not take you seriously. If other employees witness a friend/co-worker getting away with such brazen disregard, dissension in the office will spread and you’ll lose control. The best way to nip a potential situation like this in the bud is to not allow a subordinate to get close enough to where they would feel comfortable dissing your authority.
Keep Your Work Life and Personal Life Separate
It’s tempting to divulge the details of your personal life to your employees, like what hobbies you’re passionate about, all the fun activities you did over the weekend, and even what your personal opinions are over hot-button issues. The problem with being so transparent is that a shrewd employee can take note of these personal details and use them to weasel their way into a pseudo friendship. If you’re not on guard against such subtle suck-uppery, then you could get played.
What’s worse, even though you might miss these cues, the rest of your staff sure won’t. They’ll grow to despise the co-worker who’s manipulating the boss. This will cause major divisions in the workplace. By being careful and not revealing too much about your personal life to your team, employees will be forced to advance their careers based on their job performance, instead of “getting cozy with the boss.” In turn, this will create a strong company made up of workers that are good at their job, as opposed to a weak organization where the managers have spots of brown on their nose.
Look for Meaningful Relationship Elsewhere
We understand that these tips are easier said than done. When you pour your life into running your company, it can be difficult to keep those whom you spend the most time with at arm’s length. Instead of defaulting to your employees for your most meaningful and influential relationships, be intentional about looking elsewhere. There are dozens of social settings and groups outside of work where you can fit right in. Sure, it may take a bit of initiative on your part to leave the office and go to these social gatherings, but the payoff will be worth it when you make a strong friend who has absolutely nothing to do with your business.
At the end of the day, we’re not suggesting that you ignore your employee’s personal needs and be a cold boss-bot. Instead, we’re trying to help business owners by bringing to light an all-too-common pitfall that holds small companies back. Another common pitfall holding companies back is misusing and underutilizing their technology. We can help with this too, professionally speaking of course.