The relationship you have with your team members is an ever changing experience – It is a privilege to be in the position of team leader (or corresponding job role.) You are a cross between a mentor, teacher, confidant, peace keeper, shoulder to cry on… and sometimes the authoritative figure among many other things.
You want your team to perform to the best of their ability, this rests highly (but not solely) on your relationship with them. You take their performance and general well being very personally. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one they have fighting their battles and other times their behavior can drive you mad. But where do you draw the line between boss and friend?
This is a particularly tricky thing to decipher if you have progressed up in the same office or department, your once colleagues and friends become your employees and the dynamic changes.
Everyone is different and will view your position / role / promotion differently – it is in your employees best interest (as well as yours and the businesses) to remember that you are not friends. You are there to manage, whether that be through being a shoulder to cry on or by being the authoritative figure. It may sound blunt, but can you really make the best decision for your employees if you are looking at them through the rose tinted glasses of friendship?
The answer is no.
You do not need to run out and start burning bridges with those friends you had made that have changed from your colleague to employee, but you have to remember to keep it professional. It will ALWAYS be in their best interest if you manage them as a boss and not a friend. It’s also correct to treat everyone fairly. I would use the friendship to have a good working relationship with the person, but otherwise keep the friendship out of the office environment.
Of course, you may have to deal with employees that did not start out as your friend. Quite simply.. remain fair, professional, approachable and caring. You shouldn’t treat these employees any different than you would anyone else. Everyone responds to a different management style but the fundamentals are always the same.
I will touch on dealing with challenging employees at a later date.
American author Travis Bardberry said “More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts”