Managers work hard to create a productive working relationship with their employees. To maintain a collaborative work environment, this might also mean lunch treats or showing appreciation for a job well done. Since they spend most of the time working together, adding each other on social media or inviting each other to Happy Hour seems natural.
However, in a corporate environment, initiating friendships with employees that extend to after office hours can lead to conflicts of interest. There are a number of reasons a manager should not get too personal with his/her team members.
However, in a corporate environment, initiating friendships with employees that extend to after office hours can lead to conflicts of interest. There are a number of reasons a manager should not get too personal with his/her team… Click To Tweet
Part of it has to do with the fact that supervisors have to remain approachable to employees without crossing the line. This allows them to retain their authority and keep employees at a distance at the same time.
Part of being a manager is understanding how to create those professional boundaries without becoming unapproachable. While higher management should be friendly, that does not call for drinks after work so to speak.
Here are the main differences between a boss and a friend at work:
Friendships Don’t Have an Agenda
Friendships are based on personal connections, something that has no place in a manager/employee relationship. While we crave those connections as social beings, those ties compromise relationships at work that should remain professional. If, for instance, a personal tie prevents an employee or the boss from doing their jobs, those connections have to change.
They are Not Equals
Contrary to popular belief, adding your bosses on Facebook does not make them your equal. Even if the boss is friendly and allows employees to relax at work sometimes, that does not mean he/she is their friend. They might do things for the sake of the business that may displease their subordinates. Friendships cannot last under conditions where there are boundaries between workers and managing authorities no matter how strong the bond is.
Performance Trumps Friendships
In a professional work environment, employees are judged on their performance and how much they contribute to the business’ success. As such, a manager’s job is to make sure that they meet targets that are set to ensure said success. Friendships can get in the way, and managers might find it difficult to press employees to work harder or improve if they are on friendly terms with them.
It Isn’t Personal
In many ways, a leader is like a parent to subordinates. However, unlike parents, they cannot spoil them with treats in the hopes that they cooperate. A manager’s job is to mold together teams, and push their members to test and exceed their comfort zones. This means that they also have to hold people accountable if they want their subordinates to grow and improve their performance.
This does not mean that managers cannot allow their team members to relax or have fun sometimes. However, as leaders, they also know that they have to lay out certain expectations that need to be fulfilled. In other words, they have to maintain a balance that can motivate their team members, keep them accountable, and remain approachable without creating friendly terms that can be exploited.
The fact is that trying to forge friendships with subordinates is a fundamentally selfish act. If they fail to maintain expectations from their team, managers fail in their most important role as leaders.
Being the Boss is Lonely
Contrary to popular belief, true leadership is an inverted pyramid. The boss is at the bottom supporting the entire organization with their efforts. That makes the role of the CEO and manager lonely, especially if they do the right thing and maintain professional boundaries.
They realize that if they try to be everyone’s best friend, they will do the business a great disservice. As managers, they have to put the team and the projects they are working on ahead of themselves. That requires discipline and sacrifices which ‘friends’ cannot understand.
Workplace Safety and Compliance Library
As a manager, the best way to ensure your subordinates respect work boundaries is to demonstrate it first. The Workplace Safety and Compliance Library from 360Training.com has all of the resources you need to create training sessions for employees that can help them focus more on their targets, and less on forging friendships. Sign up for the 7-day free trial today!