Can You Be Friends With Your Employees?


Can You Be Friends With Your Employees?

When I was younger I worked in a rapidly growing medium sized family run business. It was growing so rapidly in fact, that by the time I left 4 years later it had tripled in size and been bought out by a multinational corporation.

My boss at the time was great. She was friendly and understanding but as the business grew I was starting to notice that she was struggling with some of her staff relationships.

Where she was once friends with certain employees when the business was small, she was having to create distance. As the business became more structured, she had to change her style of management, becoming less available as a friend. For some employees that was difficult to understand.

Since then I’ve seen this very same issue present itself within many businesses, including my own, and it’s all led me to one conclusion. It does not make good business sense to be friends with your employees and here is why:

Are You Treating Everyone Equally?

Most recently I watched a friends small business deteriorate as she became close with one of her employees. The problem was she had two employees and this blossoming relationship with employee number one had employee number two feeling uncomfortable, resentful and insecure in her role. It appeared as though she was playing favourites and it wasn’t long before she lost a valuable team member.

If the relationships you have with employees are not scalable, balanced or able to be easily replicated, maybe it’s time to rethink the way you interact and put a plan into place for future employees.

Does Your Business Come First?

After employee number two quit, she confided in me that she’d made a mistake and she started making changes to her relationship with employee number one.

In the interim period between employee two quitting and finding a suitable replacement, office life had become hectic. They were now two people doing the job of three and the business continued to grow.

Behaviour that had previously been acceptable, long lunches together and taking extra time off to deal with personal issues, suddenly became no-go and number one became resentful. Precious time was spent putting out emotional fires rather than focusing on growing the business until finally, to the relief of both parties, number one quit and moved on.

Happy employees can be the key to success but ultimately when you own a business, your business has to come first.

Are You in Danger of Oversharing?

Let’s face it, being in business can be a lonely place. There are times when it’s nice just to have someone to vent to, but you need to resist the urge to overshare to your employees.

Oversharing can create instability and a lack confidence in your abilities as a leader. Instead, find a mentor or a business coach to help you sort through any issues surrounding your business.

Are You Respected?

Being respected as an owner and a boss is vital to the growth of your business; and you’re leadership style needs to reflect this. Playing favourites, putting personal drama before the health of your business and oversharing isn’t the way to gain that respect!

It’s normal and natural to find yourself as a person drawn to or connecting with another person. As a boss though, it pays to remain impartial. You can be friendly without being friends.

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