Be Friendly to Employees (But Don’t Become Friends)

by Evil HR Lady on May 14, 2018

We spend more time at work than we do with our friends — and often more time with them than we do with our families. As such, making friends at work seems like the natural thing to do. You get to know how your employees like their coffee, their favorite movies, and their family drama. It makes sense that you would call them your friends.

With your peers there’s no reason not to — it’s awesome. But with your direct reports, it’s a terrible idea.

The Pesky Issue of Power Dynamics

Friends are great, and research shows you should work hard to gain friends. But, the problem is that the manager/employee relationship isn’t an equal one. When you have hire/fire authority over someone, you’ve got to worry about a balance of power.

To keep reading, click here: Be Friendly to Employees (But Don’t Become Friends)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria Rose May 14, 2018 at 8:50 pm

I used to be ridiculed by a few coworkers because I never extended the daily workplace association passed dealing with coworkers at work, as most did not have to deal with the same issues at home as I did. (single mom supporting the household). I valued keeping the job and have descretiary time to party after work hours. When I became a manager, I held myself as a person they could talk issues with, but not a person to hang out with. All that does is develop employee performance issues as they will lower productivity to keep chatting. I used to use a phase from a John Wayne movie–Can you walk and talk at the same time.

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Bluey May 14, 2018 at 10:00 pm

I work with a Supervisor ( I am the Admin ) and she has one employee ( that I am aware of ) she is friends on FB with. I know that they have interacted outside of work as well.

The Supervisor has had a tougher time dealing with the employee for behavior/performance issues in part because of the friendship and in part because the Supervisor is very weak in general in her discipline.

This employee, with no doubt takes advantage of the weakness and the friendship. Although Supervisor does talk to her about issues but you know the employee, like most of them don’t take her seriously. She keeps pulling her BS and gets away with it.

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Dorothy May 14, 2018 at 10:15 pm

I always saw socializing regularly with my team as coercive — that they might prefer NOT to socialize with me, but would fear that not doing so would harm their careers.

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David May 15, 2018 at 3:52 pm

I was a server for years and found the best advice to be; “Be Friendly not Familiar” Today, my friends are my wife and daughters. The rest Friendly Acquaintances….might seem a bit lonely and stressful but it is, for sure, safer.

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MtnLaurel May 15, 2018 at 4:41 pm

YES. Worst boss I ever had wanted to be “friends.” I was always friendly but didn’t want to be friends…I really didn’t think we should. And that hurt me with this boss.

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