Conversely, employees who enjoy a strong connection with their bosses are likely to display higher levels of loyalty, work longer hours and act as advocates for the business.
So why is it a bad idea for leaders to form fully-fledged friendships with the people they lead?
To effectively lead a business, it’s vital that your employees respect you and value your authority. Although forging friendships with your workers might seem like the shortcut to getting them on side, it can compromise the interests of your company and hurt your bottom line. However, keeping your employees at arm’s length can be equally risky, they might fail to empathise with your decisions and won’t think twice about jumping ship if they feel the need.
The best bosses manage to strike a balance between the demands of leadership and values of friendship. Here’s how to follow in their footsteps:
Clear and honest communication is essential if you want to keep your employees’ respect while maintaining a friendship. It’s important to be upfront about your goals and expectations and outline how your workers can help you achieve them, as well as exactly what they can expect from you. You are their boss first, their friend second.
Your favourite mistake
It’s natural for you to get along with certain employees better than others, but playing ‘favourites’ can be a mistake. It can spark workplace politics and distrust among your other staff members – issues that can have a major impact on motivation and productivity. Base your treatment of your staff on how much they contribute to the business, not your personal affinity with them.
Keep it on the down-low
You might enjoy high levels of camaraderie with your employees, but you must keep some things under the radar. Anything related to wages, hiring and firing decisions and bonuses are highly confidential and divulging these can seriously threaten your credibility.
Keep it honest
It’s common to think that being friends with your employees is the best thing for your team, but these efforts can backfire if you’re not genuine. Asking your staff personal questions about weekend plans, family and friends can help build your relationship, but it’s much better to let this evolve naturally.
Socialise within limits
Whether it’s a long lunch on Friday or after-work drinks, socialising is an element of most workplaces and it’s completely acceptable for managers to be a part of this. Just be careful to mingle with everyone, never overindulge in alcohol and don’t be the last one standing. Prioritise your role as leader over your desire to be one of the gang.
Sometimes you might be friends with an employee whose performance is not up to scratch. As difficult as it might be, you need to keep emotions out of it when considering this person’s behaviour and how it’s impacting staff morale, customer relations and your bottom line. If you can help them, then do so, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just let them go.
As a small business owner there are many things you need to be aware of, especially when it comes to your employees. By defining the line between friend and boss you will be able to make more appropriate decisions for your business as well as your staff.
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