My former boss (and his wife) just spent five days at our house. While they were visiting, I began to think about the “my friend as a boss” thing and realized I have been friends with several bosses (and still am). I’ve also had it the other way around, where I was, or am friends with a subordinate.
Many have opined about employees becoming friends of a boss and vice versa. Most advice is to tread very lightly, or avoid becoming friends with a boss altogether. I found that advice difficult to follow, especially in a professional environment where we had mutual interests and goals. There, it seemed natural for friendships to form. After all, working with more than one person is about synergy, not merely forcing work out of someone.
The bottom line is that all work relationships should be friendly. We don’t all have to be personal friends, but the age old adage of catching more flies with honey than vinegar is certainly true. I’ve worked with both the friendly and unfriendly and observed all sorts of management styles. When you’re having fun and enjoying each others’ company; creativity and productivity increase.
Being friends with a boss can cause some problems too — such as, cries of favoritism, or severe awkwardness when things go wrong inside or outside of the work relationship. Then, maturity has to kick-in and all parties need to use emotional intelligence and common sense to refocus on the present and the job at hand. Be friends with your boss? I say, yes, it beats not being a friend!