Your workplace can become more of a second home for you, considering the amount of time you spend there. Naturally, you are bound to become friends with some of your co-workers, some of these co-workers include your boss. According to research, employees with friends in the workplace are much happier and tend to be more productive. Though they may be more productive, when the friendships fail to work out, their productivity tends to spiral downwards much more than the colleagues without friends in the workplace.
The idea of being friends with your boss may sound flattering, however, there are reasons why you should not be friends with your boss at all. Information shared between people cannot be taken back, and sometimes, it may adversely work against you. One may not be able to separate the personal life from professional life, and they may also negatively view their colleague because of this. In each and every relationship there need to be boundaries, these boundaries help in preventing the negative repercussions that may come when there is a fallout.
In this article, the reasons why you should never be friends with your boss will be highlighted, and hopefully, you will gain valuable insight on why your boss should remain your superior, and nothing more.
- It becomes difficult for them to criticise you
It is not uncommon for one to make a mistake when doing their job, no one can do their job perfectly. When that happens, naturally your boss is supposed to be there to provide the constructive criticism and guidance you need, in order for you to improve in your job. However when your boss happens to be your friend, it can be difficult for them to criticise you, and that criticism may be necessary for your own personal growth. They may find themselves in a difficult position to offer corrections on your work as it may affect your personal relationship. If your manager is afraid to criticise you, you may continue making the same mistakes unknowingly, and your career growth may be hampered.
- There can be a conflict of the two worlds – the professional & the personal
As the saying goes, business and pleasure can never really be mixed, something has to give. Sometimes you may leave unfinished work behind at the office. This is a lot easy to get away with if your boss is not your friend, and the only time you ever see them is in the office. However, if they are your friend, they may end up taking up your free time and mentioning work when all you want to do is relax and enjoy yourself. You may find yourself unable to escape office life as your boss is free to contact you considering how your friendship goes beyond the office. This is an unwelcome reality that may really affect your personal life. Another possibility maybe your boss using that time to ask you about some of your other colleagues. Your boss may use your access to other colleagues, as a way to get a deeper insight into the day to day happenings of the office. This may put you in a difficult position and conflict may arise in the office as some of your colleagues may accuse you of spying on them and doing the boss’ bidding on their behalf. In the end, you may end up making enemies of your colleagues instead of getting along with them.
- There may be accusations of favouritism
On the surface it may seem like a good idea to be in good books with the boss, however, this may come with accusations of favouritism from your co-workers. Your co-workers may think that your boss is not taking a tough stance with you, as compared with them and this may lead to a hostile work environment. You may, for instance, be promoted, not because you are friends with the boss, but because you are genuinely good at your work. Your co-workers may not take well to this as they may think that you are being promoted only because you are friends with your boss and not because you actually earned the promotion. Even a raise for putting in hard work may be taken as a sign of favouritism and you and your co-workers may not get along.
- Alienation of your co-workers
Being close to your boss may mean that you may find yourself alienated from your co-workers. They may not want anything to do with you, meaning that they may end up working against you. This may render you a lone soldier fighting against a whole union against you. Consider the fact that your co-workers are the people you spend more time with than your actual boss in the office. Would you be comfortable with people constantly glaring you and whispering behind your work about your supposed questionable work ethic? As a result, you may end up hating going to work and producing poor quality work. You may end up depressed and hating your job, something you may have actually really loved. Avoid all these scenarios and keep it professional!
- The implications may be costly if your boss is of the opposite sex
It is always good to work well with your boss and get along with them, however, what may be the implications if your boss if of the opposite sex? Your friendship may start off innocently. You may really want to be friendly with your boss so that the work environment is friendly. However what happens when your boss starts asking for more? How are you going to gently turn down your boss without making things awkward in the office? All this can be avoided by maintaining professionalism at all times and not befriending your boss.
- Your friendship with your boss may lead to complications within the work environment
Regardless of how much you get along with your boss, they will still be your boss first, and as such will always be your superior. Bear in mind that your boss also has an obligation to their boss, to deliver a particular standard of work which may be compromised if they take on a relaxed approach with their subordinates. Your boss has authority, and ultimately the final word. This means that they can fire you, should they see the need to. It may be particularly harder to take criticism from someone you regard as a friend, you may tend to over-analyse the situation and come up with reasons as to why things happened the way they did. This is different in a situation where your boss is not your friend. You will not hold anything against him and most importantly you will put reason before emotions.
Consider why you took the job in the first place. You did not join the organisation to be your boss’ favourite employee, you joined the organisation to work, improve yourself professionally and earn a living. Keep this in mind. You are only as happy as the people in your surroundings. Remember this and do not alienate them.
Lindah Mavengere is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950
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