Do your employees consider you a boss or a friend? What’s the difference? And does it matter? The answer will depend on your own management style, your workplace culture, and the personality and motivation strategies that work best for the employee in question. As you evaluate all of those variables, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
1. Keep testing, changing and evolving.
There are many qualities that contribute to the development of a wise and effective boss. But all good bosses have one trait in common: They WANT to be good bosses. And if something they’re doing doesn’t contribute to this goal, they stop doing it and try something else. They’re always keeping an eye on what works and what doesn’t, they always keep the focus on the employee, not on themselves, and they’re always ready to embrace change.
2. Keep the power of relationships in mind.
According to HR survey results across almost every industry, employees are happiest and least likely to leave a company when their bosses and coworkers “feel like family”. Employees will put up with long hours, unpleasant conditions, and even a lower-than-average salary if they like the people they spend time with during the day. The old saying applies: What we’re doing matters less than who we’re doing it for.
3. Remember that “friendship” means different things to different employees.
Some employees will happily accept your leadership if you simply allow them to chat, open up, and share their grievances with you. Some employees feel a strong sense of “friendship” with a boss who supports their career development and goes the extra mile to provide the experience and exposure they need—even if that exposure takes them beyond the walls of the company. And some employees will see you as a friend if you just show your human side and ask for help and advice when you need it. A “friend” can be a conversational partner, an advocate, or just a person who others can relate to and respect.
4. Don’t blur the lines of authority…unless you want to.
Do you need to maintain a strict hierarchy because order and structure make you feel secure and safe? In that case, your system may fall apart if employees start to challenge your orders or think of you as an equal. On the other hand, are you here to build this company and make it grow, no matter who provides the ideas or asks the questions? In that case, keep your door and ears open, and be willing to accept suggestions and feedback. Is your company a democracy or a dictatorship? Let the answer to this question inform the structure of your employee relationships.
For more on how to keep your relationships flexible, dynamic and productive, arrange a consultation with the experienced staffing team at CSS.