Supervisors Beware of Work Friendlies


No matter how many times we have been told not to become social with our staff, we, as supervisors, have done it anyway. For some of us, it was only one time and we have learned our lesson.  Then there are the rest of us.  We might have to make this mistake twice, maybe three times, maybe more.  No matter where we fall with our will power and constitution, we have to learn the lesson one way or another.

I personally have learned my lesson.  I will just leave it at that.  Many of my colleagues did not fare so well, unfortunately.  I have had associates confide in me that they had, honestly, tried hard to connect with their employees, and thought that it would make for a better supervisory atmosphere.  They found out the hard way, that being friends with their subordinates while attempting to maintain an authoritative image proved to be a great challenge.

Delivering constructive criticism was especially difficult because things would start to get personal.  The supervisor’s competency would then be questioned.  Needless to say, the work relationship was never the same.  I know of a VP of HR that shared with me that experience when he had to bring the employee in front of his manager; the employee brought up a personal issue that his boss knew nothing about.  Scary!

If you are a supervisor and you feel that you want to be friends with your staff, get to know your HR department because that’s where you might be spending a lot of your time.

Just because you can handle the relationship does not mean your employee can.  You might see yourself as a friendly supervisor, but your employee may feel that they are being forced to fraternize.  In this case, you run the risk of over-sharing in a manner that might border on the edge of harassment.

The concern of the supervisor should be; how will the employee react?  Think to yourself : “Will I be thrown under the bus at HR?”  “Will the employee disparage me in front of others?” “For what am I endangering my job and reputation?”

The employee might come to work day-in and day-out holding a deep seething grudge for you– who appeared to make an inappropriate advance toward them, even if that was not your intention.

And unfortunately, all of these questions are possible outcomes.

So what can you do?

  • Keep it professional.
  • Share personal information responsibly. This means, only with your colleagues.
  • Know your staff.  Not all employees feel comfortable being personal with supervisors.
  • When a subordinate keeps pushing for that opening, be sure to politely steer clear.

Remember, show respect for your subordinates and that will make for a strong working relationship.

As you get to know me through my blog, you will understand that I am sharing this from a place of making mistakes and learning the hard way.

Did you learn the hard way like me, or have you always been on top of your game? Send me your stories! @CorporateMoxie or at Facebook: Corporate Moxie.

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