Is it Time we talked?

Can You Be Friends with Employees?

This is one of the hardest boundaries to keep in place as a small business owner!! Because you already know the answer to the question in that headline. You really shouldn't be friends with your employees, but in a small business, it can be really hard to avoid blurring the lines. And OF COURSE you want to be friendly and have fun at work. And you also have to be professional. Here are some ways that you can have a friendship with employees without letting it get complicated.

Keep It Casual

You can definitely be friendly at work, and you can even get a drink after work with an employee. Just keep it casual. In other words, DO NOT overshare about your personal life, don't share information about clients or other employees that your direct reports don't need to know, and don't be fooled into thinking that your employee will always stay with you. You've got to keep a distance between you, because at some point you'll need to offer constructive criticism or give them a performance review. And that gets really awkward when they think their "friend" is being harsh with them. 

Set Boundaries

From the very beginning of the hiring process, you want to set boundaries. You should have an employee handbook that spells out what you expect of every single employee, from a dress code to how they interact with clients (or not). Having these rules in place lets your employee know how you like to work and it keeps things professional from the very start. BUT - you have to respect those boundaries, too!! So you can ask about their weekend plans, or how their kids are doing, but you need to be sure that neither one of you is stepping over the line into an oversharing situation or an inappropriate exchange. And really be clear about whether you should "friend" your employees on social media or not. In most cases, that crosses the line. 

Communicate Clearly

Just like almost EVERYTHING in a small business, clear communication will save you a LOT of headaches. You want to give your employees clear instructions and deadlines, and offer them effective feedback to help them do their jobs. If an employee is texting you at all hours, for example, then you need to nip that in the bud as soon as possible. Set up regular reviews and be sure you offer them a written document and not just a verbal one - even if you're praising them! If the worst case scenario happens and you end up with a nightmare employee, you want to have things in writing, for sure! 

So yes, you can have a great relationship with your employees! You CAN have fun at work! But you have to always remember that YOU are the boss and your employees work FOR you. Otherwise, you're going to be heading for trouble down the road. To help you get started on the right foot, download my FREE Guide to Hiring Professionals here!



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