Should Managers Be Friends with Employees?
It’s human nature to want to make friends with people, but when you’re the boss, is it wise to fraternize with your subordinates? 38 percent of U.S. workers report they have shared personal information with their bosses, and nearly one in three say their bosses have asked them for advice on personal matters. This is just the tip of the iceberg: 32 percent of respondents in a recent survey are friends on Facebook with their bosses, 28 percent text their bosses about non-work-related issues, and nearly one-quarter have been to their boss’s home. Bonding with your superior may seem innocent enough on the surface, but are employees and managers crossing a line in doing so?
Manager and Employee Relationships: The New Normal
The survey asked 3,000 full-time employees across the country to answer three questions:
- What’s a normal level of closeness in the modern American workplace?
- What constitutes that closeness?
- How do things vary across industries?
The answers helped shed light on the bond shared between managers and employees. The most common connection, it was found, was the exchange of telephone numbers. Seven out of ten employees have their boss’s personal phone number. This may not seem unusual; after all, if an employee needs to call in sick, it’s often best they contact their manager directly. In an era when smartphones and texting are commonplace, what constitutes privacy has become a bit blurred.
Other responses are more eye-opening. “Visited my boss’s home” and “hung out with my boss socially” both ranked high, as did meeting the boss’s spouse or significant other. Because job satisfaction is closely linked to personal relationships with a boss, is this really such a bad thing? Especially given the fact that many companies have social functions in which significant others and children are welcome, such as company picnics and holiday parties? Probably not. After all, with unemployment at a historic low and companies vying to attract and maintain top-level talent, a little after-hours friendliness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The trick is to keep it professional within the workplace and not to let outside extracurricular activities have any bearing on promotions, bonuses, and the like. A charge of favoritism can come back and hurt you, so tread carefully!