As the saying goes, it can get lonely at the top. You, as a human being, need someone to lean on, talk to and bounce ideas off, even if you are the CEO. But this can be tricky. How do you set your boundaries? How do you still command respect from your employees who are your friends? How do you ensure that the usual professionalism is maintained?
Experts say it’s not only important to maintain friendships as you rise higher in your company, but also beneficial. For instance, when you have friends on your team you can always get a feel of the general mindset of your employees regarding any particular situation. Keeping the lines of communication with friends on the team open, means that you always know what’s going on in the office that will help you to make better decisions regarding Management.
In addition, there is also a sense of trust between you and your friends that will enhance that communication and help prevent adverse situations that may crop up in the workplace. It will also increase your sense of happiness and know that there is someone or some people whom you trust within the team who will help you through the challenges that arise in the office. You also can discuss and give and take ideas that will be better accepted by the majority.
However, transitioning from friend to boss needs to be handled with care. You need to communicate your boundaries at the outset. If not, how do you reprimand a friend who has not adhered to workplace rules and met the goals you have set for the team? There has to be the explicit understanding that you are primarily their boss at the workplace and then their friend, but that outside the office the same rule does not apply.
You must also keep in mind that maintaining one particular friendship at the office will mean that others will feel alienated and may feel it is inappropriate and favoritism. Therefore, strive to have and maintain a friendship between you and everyone on the team: no one person should be made to feel special than the other. Everyone should feel that they can come to you, the boss, with anything, but also that you are just that- the boss.
Ensure that as the boss, despite the friendships you maintain, that you avoid over sharing. Information is important in any workplace, but you must know just how much sharing is necessary even outside the office. It must be understood that sensitive information is not given out and that everyone can trust you to keep their confidences.
It can be quite challenging to strike the right balance between boss and friend, but it can be done. Think your work relationships through. Employees are human beings, after all, and they would like you to see them as such.