Friendship and Work

People_NetworkI’ve been reading a few articles about friendship in the workplace.

To promote a healthy work environment it is healthy to at least make some kind of small talk with people you work with. In terms of friendship it is OK if you are socialising with those who are on the same level as yourself.  Being friends with your manager could be a bit more difficult as that person is managing you, so as not blur lines it is considered better not to be overly friendly. The article; ‘Can a manager be a friend as well as an authority to staff in the workplace?’ Talks about this topic, if you are promoted and are now managing your work colleagues, how distance is required to keep an objective view when it comes to reviews, criticism of work etc.

I can understand the reasons for keeping managers and in some cases work colleagues at arm’s length in order to maintain a professional environment and so as not to be taken advantage of or have things that may have been said outside of work twisted and brought up in work.

From my own experience I would say the sign of a good manager is someone you are able to comfortably communicate and are able to socialise with if you feel like there is a potential friendship there. Yet are also able to maintain that level of authority because they have the respect of their team.

We all know there is a hierarchy ladder in place at work and out of respect for your manager you would not behave in a manner that would undermine them and put them in a difficult situation of having to reprimand you. Having seen situations of where friendship between a manager and team leader whom they managed was not spoken to about their behaviour when other members of the team had complained or if they had been spoken to had little or no effect. It is possible that the main manager knew the reason behind the team leader’s behaviour but still should have also listened to the concerns of the other team members before they made the decision to leave instead of leaving them feeling as if they had been ignored.

In a larger organisation where I have worked I’ve seen how friendship between a manager and a team member have resulted in promotions based on this friendship rather than on their ability to do the job; ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. I could be wrong in this instance but we all know it happens.

What is the right approach when it comes to friendship and the workplace?

I think it comes down to common sense, respect and trusting in your own judgement. There will be times where you will get it wrong but will hopefully learn from your experiences.


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