You have a good job in a successful company. Even better, the boss seems very cool, the kind of person you’d like to hang out with and be BFF’s with outside of the office. Word of caution…beware. The undertones of office politics are always at play and it’s very difficult for friendship and professionalism to co-exist.
No matter how much you two enjoy each other’s company, your boss is still someone who has the power to critique your work, reprimand you, demote you or even fire you someday. Remember, anything you tell a supervisory “friend” at work will be viewed through the lens of “how will it affect her performance here?”
Here are six tips to help navigate the waters of being friends with your boss:
1. Don’t let your professional guard down – Regardless of how friendly you are with your boss, keep the intimate details of your personal life out of the office. Confiding in him or her about your troubled marriage may not only potentially send mixed signals if they are of the opposite sex but make you appear unstable if you don’t do something about a rocky or difficult relationship. Your judgment can eventually come in question.
2. Avoid friending your boss on Facebook and other social media sites. Resist the urge to request your boss as a friend on their social media page. It puts both you and your supervisor in an uncomfortable position and you may be sorry when he or she sees something that is meant for close family and friends. If you are already Facebook friends, stay on your guard and avoid posting anything that may cast a shadow of doubt on your good judgment.
3. Avoid asking questions or discussing your boss’s personal life. While your boss may feel comfortable enough to give you details of her tumultuous love affair or shaky relationship with her boss, be careful to not offer your opinion of how you think she should handle the situation. You don’t want to be responsible for a decision she later regrets.
4. Don’t expect to continue a friendship once your friend receives a promotion and becomes your boss. Chances are that your relationship may wane once your friend has to supervise you as an employee. It would naturally feel uncomfortable for a friend to start evaluating your job performance and skill level. Stay focused on your job and keep your new relationship in perspective. Start to cultivate new friends and don’t take it personally.
5. Arrange a “safe” environment for friendship. Playing on the same sports team or bowling league is a good way to build a relationship without getting too personal in a friendly and social environment. Avoid excessive drinking (alcohol) at these outings to curtail unnecessary happy hour gossip.
6. Is it ever possible to be friends with the boss? It’s possible but the odds are against you. No matter what the circumstances of your friendship, office politics and boss-friend BFF’s are not the best ingredient for long term employment success. Continue to keep work relationships courteous, friendly and above all, professional.