Can bosses be friends with their employees?

    Business Spotlight Audio 2/2022
    Two business people talking and laughing
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    Melita Cameron-Wood: So, should we be friends with our bosses? I think this is a really interesting one. Personally, I think having a good, friendly relationship with your boss really helps you to work better with each other. I think it’s a real shame when people say, “Oh, we have these hierarchies, and we can’t be friends because of them. What do you think, Owen?” 

    Owen Connors: I think it’s okay to be friendly with your boss and to inform your boss of things in your personal life, for instance, that may to affect sth.etw. betreffenaffect your work. But I think it’s not a good idea at all to actually be friends with your boss. After all, this is a person who could and would fire you if necessary. 

    Melita: Well, I mean obviously, yeah, they could fire you if they wanted to, but surely, if you were friends with that person, then the likelihoodWahrscheinlichkeitlikelihood of you being fired would be reduced. I mean, I think there’s nothing wrong with going out for a drink with your boss on a Friday night after work. Why not? You can be friends with your colleagues, so why not your boss? 

    Owen: That’s true. But what happens if you or your boss drink a little too much — maybe share a little bit too much information? That might be to be detrimental to sb.jmdm. schadendetrimental to you or your boss. There’s professional boundaryGrenzeboundaries that should be maintained with bosses, I think. And should you happen to overshare, should your friendliness allow you to forget those boundaries, it could be problematic. 

    Melita: Yeah, I mean, I think there are some boundaries, of course. I mean being friends with your boss doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be best friends and share everything with each other, but I do think feeling comfortable is very important. And I mean sometimes, there are things in your personal life that might affect your work. If somebody is going through a divorce, for example, or having a tough time at home. I mean, I don’t think it would be a bad thing if your boss knew about these things that might impact you on an emotional level, you know.

    Owen: Definitely, definitely. I totally agree that it’s wise to be friendly with your boss and to have a friendly relationship, to have a good collegial relationship and to share important information with them. I’d be worried if one were too friendly, or if one was friends outside of work, or if one had worked together and was very friendly — and then they became your boss. I’d be worried that other colleagues might feel that there was some favouritism (UK)Günstlings-, Vetternwirtschaftfavouritism going on or that you were getting preferential treatmentVorzugsbehandlungpreferential treatment. And that could to backfirenach hinten losgehenbackfire, too, in another way, in that the boss might be harshstrengharsher on you, or tougher on you than they would be on other colleagues. 

    Melita: Mmm. I think that’s a really interesting point. Oh, sorry, I interrupted you. 

    Owen: No, no, no, you didn’t, please go on.

    Melita: I think that’s a really interesting point, and I think it’s important to make sure that other colleagues feel that they are on the same level as you are. So, I think, you know, if you were friends with your boss, you’d have to be careful about things like social media. I don’t think it’d be a good idea to post lots of photos of you and the boss out on a Friday night all over Facebook and Instagram. Your colleagues might feel like, “Why weren’t we invited? Or what’s happening here?” And I also think office gossipKlatsch, Tratschgossip should be a topic that is avoided if you are friends with your boss, because I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about other colleagues with your boss, ’cause, I mean, then they might feel threatened in some way. So, I think, you know, healthy boundaries are fine, but I don’t think that means that friendship is not possible. 

    Owen: Yeah, definitely, and I think as well if you somehow stopped being friends with, say, a colleague — if they became your boss — that would also damage that relationship. Perhaps just new boundaries need to be set. Perhaps it would be wise to actually talk with your boss then and agree on boundaries together. One could say, “OK, well, we won’t talk about these subjects. There are certain sensitivesensibel, heikelsensitive topics that are, you know, to be out of boundsto be out of boundsout of bounds for us, let’s say.”

    Melita: Yeah, I think that could be a good solution. I think, you know, at the end of the day, it’s about respect, having boundaries and, you know, to acknowledge sth.etw. anerkennenacknowledging that you have to work together as well as being friends. I think, you know, if you talk openly about these things and consider them before acting, then hopefully it should lead to a good working relationship.

    Owen: Definitely, and that’s the most important thing in the end. 

    Melita: Absolutely. Well, thanks for talking to me about this, Owen, and I’m glad we’ve resolved our differences. 

    Owen: You’re welcomeGern geschehenYou’re very welcome. Yes, thank you. 

    Melita: All right. Take care.

    Owen: You, too. 

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