Friendly versus Friends

“I have a few employees who I consider to also be my friends. However, I’m noticing these friends don’t take me as seriously as my other employees do. How can I change this?”

We see each other at work almost more than our family so it’s no wonder that coworkers become friends. Some of these friendships can even last much longer than the job itself. However, there is a difference when you are the owner or a manager.

As you mentioned, “friends” often don’t take you as seriously as other employees. This makes it much harder to be a good manager. If you neglect to discipline your friend in the same way you would another employee, two things happen. One, you potentially have a discrimination claim, and, two, your management style and policies are altered to accommodate the friendship instead of protecting the company and properly doing your job.

If you treat everyone the same when they don’t do what you say or per your policy, the friend will be upset because they aren’t getting special treatment due to the friendship. Hopefully, that would be temporary and they would come to understand. In the end, for the good of your business, you need to let employees who are friends know they will not be treated differently in the workplace and they will be expected to follow all your rules, policies, and direction. The same applies to friends and family you are considering hiring. If they don’t understand this concept, you will either lose the employee or the friend or end up in a big fight.

It’s a tightrope you’re walking. And, as the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. You do want to be friendly and accessible… and fair. But you may need to discipline, fire, or promote these employees in the future and must be able to fully justify your actions to them and others. Choose your priority… being a good manager/owner or being a good friend. It’s tough to be both successfully.

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