Work and relationships: can we be friends?
By : Dr Marcelle and Dr Tony
Question: Is it okay to be friends with your boss?
Answer: How good a friend did you have in mind?
This is the debate – to get chummy, or not to get chummy. While bosses need to maintain authority amongst staff, it doesn’t mean they need to be an ice king or queen. And while staff need to meet the expectations of their employers, it doesn’t mean they can’t share a few laughs as well.
Here are a few simple ideas to make you accessible, yet still maintain professionalism for both employee and employer.
- Respect your collages and try to be fair in your judgments. This will stop you from becoming the “jail guard” people try to avoid.
- See beyond the role: there is a tendency to see people as ‘just an accountant’, or ‘just a dentist’, or’ just the assistant’ and treat them as such. People’s lives extend beyond their work labels. For instance, if you’d met at a dinner party, you would never label that person as “just a vegetarian”. Talking about non-work related issues, even if only for a few minutes, can be a healthy part of your working day.
- Acknowledge achievements: By giving the nod to a job well done you’ll be reinforcing the developing confidence of your employee, also you’ll show that you appreciate their work. This is standard good behavior for any sort of relationship.
- Go to socials: These are times when you can talk one-on-one and let down your guard (but not so much that you’re carried home after you 8th drink too many). Go to the bar, go to a game, get involved and feel excited with the people who work for you.
- Be respectful, and share your opinion in a constructive manner. Consider when you meet a new neighbor: you need to establish a relationship before asking them to babysit your kids. Well, many bosses need to see that you are a good worker and reliable before they’re going to drop their professional guard.
- See beyond the role: Your boss isn’t an ogre. Really. They don’t go back home and eat children. Though they might have children (not to eat, but to raise), a husband or wife, a cat or dog . . . you don’t know. Pegging your boss as just a ‘boss’ means that you’ll never establish any other sort of relationships. Maybe you say “fine by me, I don’t want to know the jerk,” but keep in mind that they’ll always stay that jerk if you never see beyond.
- Do good work: This is probably too obvious, but it ought to be included. Your good work is also your employer’s good work. Thus if you do well you’ll not only satisfy yourself, but also your boss – and that will help foster a positive relationship.
- Go to socials: This is your chance to see beyond the role. Ask your employer about where they came from; what other jobs they’ve worked; what they do in their free time . . . Maybe you have a lot in common, who knows?
You’ve probably noticed that both employers and employees can do pretty similar things to foster a good relationship. That’s because key blocks to building positive relationships applies regardless of status or circumstance. Whether or not that spreads into “best buddies forever” is up to you. However, I can say with confidence that a friendly workplace is a good workplace. Keep that in mind next time you go to work.
What do you think: Should friendship mix with business? How can the employee and employer relationship work? Should there be no divide?
We’d love to hear your two cents. Add your comment and let’s get this conversation rolling.
To your success!
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