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Can you be their ‘Boss’ and their ‘Friend’?

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bossfriendMy father has always owned several businesses. He is a genius when it comes to filling a need and providing a service with supreme excellence. He is a self taught man and does methodical research in every venture he goes after. You could seriously use the expression, “everything he touches turns to gold” with this guy.

I worked for dad in a few of his companies and whenever I was asked to fill managerial roles, he always told me this:  You can’t be their boss and their friend!

That phrase used to bother me. It’s one of the reasons I never took over any of his businesses and always moved on to do my own thing. I love people. I care about people. I like having relationships with people. It’s very hard for me to be the big bad boss and distance myself from social communication.

I understand where my dad is coming from to a certain degree. As a boss you need to make sure that your employees understand that their main role in the company is to be submitted under your authority and whatever you say goes. Sometimes when you get too chummy with a staffer, they may get a little ‘comfortable’ and not put in as much effort. Sometimes they may feel like they can get away with things another employee may not be able to pull because they’re tight with the big cheese.

On the other side of the coin, I believe that to get the most out of an employee, it’s imperative that you take an interest in their personal lives. I’m not talking about creepy, love interest kind of stuff. I’m talking about their health, their spouses’ job, how their kids are doing in school and the standings of their recreational softball team. Stuff like that.

And don’t make it just about them. Share something with them about your personal life. Show them that you trust their opinion or consider them important enough to trust them with some personal info. Don’t go overboard and pour out you’re whole heart all over their desk. You do have to still maintain a leadership role. But leaders go through things too. And it’s awesome for your team to see you overcome things at work and in your personal life.

If you genuinely care for your employees, I believe they will bring more effort and loyalty to you and your company. People want to be loved. Especially now-a-days when most of them were raised by video games and nannys.

But you have to be careful. You have to have a good balance because if you’re too friendly and your employee has come to a place where they feel like they are equals, when you ask them to perform a task, they may give you trouble. Or if you actually have to ‘be the boss’ and discipline them, things can get ugly here because the employee now has a little bit of a defensive, entitlement attitude. “Who do you think you are telling me what to do?!” I’ve been there before. It’s twisted. Right up to the point where the guy was so offended by me asking him to do his job that he filed for disability and tried to sue us for mental anguish. Thankfully, our insurance company found him out partying and living it up when he was supposed to be home on stress-rest, but it could have been very expensive.

Establish the guidelines right from the day employees are hired.  You can easily have a BOSS/FRIEND relationship which will keep the working environment friendly and the staff productive.  I believe if you keep your social office friendly, fun and within the guidelines of the law, your business will be very successful!

Go get ’em Tiger!

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