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Numerous research projects have found that having friends at work is a good thing. Science has found that meaningful friendships in the workplace have benefits like increased emotional well-being, trust, and loyalty. It’s also good for you physically. Making and keeping workplace friends will reduce stress and anxiety and increase your productivity. Your career friendships lead to more candid feedback, a greater sense of belonging, and improved teamwork and collaboration.
You can be friends with your employees. That’s because it comes with advantages like having a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The connection can also help you get to know each other better. As a result, you’ll have more respect and appreciation for one another. And, you’ll be more committed to helping each other out when needed.
On the flip side, there are disadvantages. For example, if the friendship goes south, it could lead to conflicts that have nothing to do with work. When the connection has negative consequences, performance decreases, and a toxic work environment has been created.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to treat all people the same, but keep this in mind at all times. The balancing act is somewhat like being a parent who has more than one child. You can’t pick favourites, and you need to be consistent.
Avoid disastrous leadership mistakes like:
There needs to be some distance between you and your employees. After all, you still need to have some sort of perception of hierarchy. Some understanding of authority ensures that everyone can get along just well without crossing the line.
The best way to stay within guidelines is by establishing ground rules. For example, you can spend time outside of work during happy hour, volunteering, or when attending industry events. But, you may have a policy that you do not attend the birthday party of your employee's children or that you never drink alcohol with them.
Don’t hide out in your office all day. Get out there and mingle with everyone. Have them lunch with them -- schedule one-on-ones with each team member. And, occasionally get your hands dirty and work in the trenches with them.
When you take the time to get to know your employees, you get to find out what their interests are and what makes them tick. You get to learn what hidden talents they possess. And, you may discover that you have more in interest then you previously thought.
Honesty is one of the best principles you can use to establish a healthy balance between caring for your employees and leading them professionally.
The closer you get to someone on a personal level, the harder it becomes to give them honest feedback as employees.
Build trust with each of your employees. For example, grant them autonomy and flexible schedules. Trust in your employee builds resilience -- shows you rely on them enough to work where, when, and however they prefer. As a result, this will create a more positive and productive culture.
If you don’t feel confident enough to strike a balance between being a boss and friend, seek assistance from someone else. For instance, you may want to have an unbiased party make important decisions, such as promoting or firing employees. Don't mention anything about your personal feeling and relationship to the third party -- and give them complete autonomy to determine the decision.
As the boss, you'll want to take care of your own well being as far as workplace connections. Do what's best for your emotional well being and your emotional intelligence so that you can stay at the top of your team productivity.
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