Blurred Lines: How Friendship with Your Boss Can Affect Your Job

man-871960_640Chances are, if you work in a typical environment with a “chain of command”, you have a boss above you, coworkers alongside you, and in some cases, people working underneath you.  The dynamics of an office (or any multi-level work environment really) can get hairy when relationships among these different positions aren’t handled correctly.  Being standoffish with the people you work with doesn’t do much for your “team spirit”, but being too friendly with others in the office, especially those above or below you, can add tension to an already precarious balance of work and friendship.

So, how should you handle friendship at work?

If you’re in the position of being the “superior” of the group (a.k.a., the boss) it’s important to remember that you are supposed to hold a respected, leadership role.  It’s ok to be friendly with your employees, but being too friendly can cause those under you to lose respect, and when that happens, the efficiency and output from your office will suffer.  There is nothing wrong with going out to grab drinks or heading out to lunch with an employee or two as “friends”, but even in these situations be sure to maintain a level of professionalism, such as not partaking in too much alcohol and misrepresenting yourself.  Additionally, be equally available to all of your employees.  We know certain people mesh better than others, and it’s likely that you have one or two employees you find yourself drawn to, and others that you’d prefer to keep at a distance, but cliques within an office environment lead to dissension, gossip, and unwanted drama.  It’s ok to have your favorites…but do your best to keep it fair.  If you’re going out with a few folks from work, extend an invitation to everyone.  They will probably say no, but a simple offer will at least keep some of the talk about favoritism at bay.

Now, if you’re the employee, and you have struck up a friendship with your boss, you are in a bit of a different situation.  Your “friend” has the ability to let you go, and therefore end not only your friendship but your career as well.  Being friends with your boss is a touchy situation, and must be handled carefully.  As mentioned above, social outings and meetings are fine, but it’s important to keep in mind that even though you aren’t in the office, you can still be evaluated as an employee.  Foul or obnoxious behavior, poor choices (like drinking too much), etc. can be good enough reasons for a boss to think you might not be the best fit for your office any longer.

Finally, office friendships don’t just mean in-person contact.  Social media has opened a whole can of worms with connections within the work environment.  Choosing to hit “accept” on friend requests from employees or your boss has a long list of repercussions.  You have to keep in mind that all updates, photos, and information you post will now be visible to those you work with.  If you think that censoring your social media is going to be too much trouble, it might be best to keep your relationship an in-person only deal.

PHR Staffing Solutions is skilled in placing you in the best work environment possible, so you can truly enjoy those you work with along with the tasks at hand.  If you are on the hunt for the perfect position, or would like some extra or temporary work to help with income, we can help place you in a job that fits both your skills and your needs.  We provide employees for businesses of all sizes throughout the Polk County area.  Apply for one of our current openings here on our site, or call our Lakeland, Winter Haven, or Lake Wales offices for more information!