It’s hard being a boss and still being “cool” or being a friend to your subordinates. After all, a boss who’s too friendly with his employees will lose his sense of authority and get taken advantage of by his people. That’s why it’s imperative to find that perfect balance between being a friend and a boss.
How can you achieve this? It sounds like a tall order, but it’s really all about making smart decisions and setting boundaries when appropriate. You don’t want to be too chummy with your staff, but you also don’t want them to fear or hate you.
So here’s what you do to strike this beautiful balance with your team.
Be Intellectually Honest With Them
Honesty still goes a long way, even in the workforce. You have to level with your people if friendships are getting in the way of managing a business successfully and justly. For instance, you can pull aside some members of your team with whom you’re the friendliest and frankly-but-politely explain to them that you won’t reward them or give them promotions just because you’re on good terms.
That would be favoritism and cronyism, which is not how to run a successful business. Instead, explain to them that you’ll make decisions based on merit and how deserves to be recognized for good performance.
Your team will appreciate your frankness because it shows you respect them enough to tell them straightforwardly.
Keep Your Emotions out of Decisions
Emotions are the enemy when it comes to seeing things clearly and being fair to your entire management team, which is why it’s integral that you don’t allow yours to creep up in decision-making. If you have trouble controlling your emotions because it involves employees with whom you’re friendly, then you can simply delegate.
Just ask an unbiased, third party to make the final decision. This way, you won’t make a mistake that’ll make you seem heavy-handed or unfair to anyone under you. It’s best to err on the side of caution in such situations!
Separate the Workplace from Outside-of-Work Interactions
It’s excellent to set down some boundaries when you’re the boss. This empowers you to actually spell out where you stand with everyone under you. Take workplace and outside-the-workplace interactions with your employees, for instance. When you’re at work, don’t let employees who aren’t your friends see any favoritism or chumminess toward those who are.
Similarly, outside of work, don’t let those employees with whom you’re friendly discuss office stuff with you. Don’t talk to them about which higher-ups you hate or like or what your least favorite thing about your responsibilities is.
Your boss-employee relationship depends on it.
Never Use Social Media to Document Anything!
This rule is truly hyper-important. Many bosses and employees have come under fire and lost their jobs and careers in recent years because of unintelligent postings on social media. It’s therefore best to be conservative when it comes to your social media activity, especially that which can expose that you’re friendlier to some employees than others. You don’t want other employees looking through social media and seeing you partying with specific employees—and not them.
This will create workplace tension and conflict since favoritism seems to be at work. The solution is to be very professional on your social media accounts, or, better yet, not even have a social media presence (at least not under your real name!) when you’re the boss.
Be Authoritative, yet Don’t Be Eager to Be Everyone’s Friend
As the boss, the biggest takeaway for you is that you’re the person in a position of authority who’s tasked with leading the business or a division of it to greater profitability and growth. If you are too domineering and hostile to your employees as a way to instill discipline and perhaps motivation, things will backfire on you. Employees generally don’t respond well to living in fear of their bosses, no matter how authoritative that may look.
So you want to retain your employees and prompt the best performance out of them. To do that, you’ll have to maintain accessibility and friendliness for sure, but only up to a certain point because you don’t want those under you capitalizing on what could be seen as “weakness.”
Thus, striking the perfect balance between “coolness” and discipline is the only way to go.