Should You Be Friends With Your Boss?
The “boss-employee” relationship can be complicated. Should you try to form a close bond with your boss? If so, what’s the right way to do it? Do the pitfalls out-weigh the benefits? What’s off-limits?
We all spend a lot of our waking hours at work…and it’s likely that the people you work with have similar professional interests and goals. So it makes sense that you’ll befriend some co-workers and frankly, it makes it more fun to go to work each day.
But what about being “friends” with the boss? Where are the boundaries and how can you navigate a really healthy and productive relationship with your boss? Here are some tips to getting it right:
- Don’t ever forget he/she is the boss first and your friend, second. Whatever you discuss or joke about can come back to haunt you if it discloses a “fire-able” offence made by you or a co-worker. You’re placing your boss in a no-win situation where he/she may have to act as part of their professional responsibilities and yet it may conflict with your friendship.
- It’s not a good idea to “friend” your boss on your Facebook page or any other social media platform. Whether you initiate it or your boss does, it breeds a familiarity on both sides that can be too personal for work. Do you really need your boss to see photos of you getting crazy at last weekend’s bachelor party? Or getting cozy with a co-worker at a recent event?
- Make sure you don’t flaunt your friendship in the workplace. It makes those around you feel left out and fosters suspicion that you’re getting special treatment because of your friendship. You want to be recognized for your contributions and good work and not be suspected of always getting the first choice of shifts and favorite assignments.
- Be sure to set some ground rules – this is especially important when you have a friend who then becomes your boss. This can be tricky. Clarify your new roles in the workplace and how that might change your friendship outside of work. It can be easier to have a boss that turns into a friend, than a friend that becomes your boss.
- Remember, it’s business, it’s not personal. Your manager’s job is to keep the team running smoothly and get the job done. That means giving feedback when needed to ensure everyone is being as productive as possible. Don’t let your feelings be hurt or feel awkward when receiving feedback, just focus on making improvements that benefit you and the team.
- Try not to overshare personal information. If things change and your friendship takes a turn, that information may no longer be safe in your boss’s hands. You don’t always know how people will react and how self-aware they are in terms of emotional maturity. Healthy boundaries are essential.
- What if HR gets involved? If someone complains about preferential or inappropriate treatment, you may have to disclose your relationship. How will that affect your future at the company and will it make sense for one of you to leave? Be aware of any signals you’re sending and how much time and energy you’re expending on this relationship at work.
Having a better-than-average relationship with your boss can really increase communication and boost your morale. But, there are some pitfalls of blurring those lines between your personal and professional lives. While it can be challenging to navigate a friendship with your boss, it’s definitely doable with some thoughtful consideration.