How to Find Balance between Management and Friendship

Most of us spend nearly a third of our adult lives in a working environment.  Oftentimes we develop close friendships over the years with some of our colleagues.  Those relationships will undoubtedly shift from professional to personal.  You begin talking about your children, asking about their kid’s soccer game, venting about personal struggles.  It’s a natural form of progression when you work closely with people.  There is something about being part of a team that brings people together.  This can present a bit of a challenge, however, if you are the one leading the team.  Managers have to be conscious of how they conduct themselves with employees because the same rules of friendship don’t always apply when you’re the one in charge.  There has to be a balance.  That’s because leading a team means you have more responsibilities and those responsibilities include making tough decisions and evaluating employees.  Striking that perfect balance between manager and friend is not easy, but here are a few things you can do to help.

Be Supportive

Friends certainly want the best for each other and managers should want the best for their team.  If they are going through a difficult time, show them you are willing to help and give them advice.  You can show empathy without getting involved in their personal life.  Likewise, you don’t have to be their best friend to know what their strengths are at work.  Invest in their knowledge and give them the skills they need to succeed.

Be Honest

You can always look to a good friend for the honest truth, right?  The same is true in management.  No matter how hard it might be a good manager has to be willing to speak up when you are doing something wrong. This opens the door for communication and helps employees get better at their job.   Honesty is the foundation of any relationship and the closer you get to someone, the harder it can be to give them honest feedback.

Trust your Employees

Trust builds healthy and productive professional relationships.  When a boss trusts their employees, it gives them more freedom and shows that you trust them to do their job well.  By giving employees a little independence, they will feel empowered and motivated to perform it in a way that meets your expectations.  They will also be more satisfied with the job when they don’t feel like they are being micromanaged.

There are many ways to gain the respect of your employees without creating close personal friendships with them.  It is important for managers to be empathetic, honest, and understanding but getting too close can have a negative effect on the workplace dynamic.  Instead of focusing on your employee’s personal lives, shift your focus to helping them succeed in the workplace.