The Results Are In: Employee/Boss Relationship Should Be Friendly—Not Too Personal

In a recent poll, we asked readers what they believe the boss/employee relationship should look like. And with a resounding 91% of the votes, most agreed the relationship should be “Friendly, but not deeply involved in each other’s personal lives.” Four percent said the relationship should remain strictly business, and only 2% want to be best friends with their boss or employee inside and outside the office.

Slightly more than 3% of respondents chose the “Other” option and submitted their own thoughts, including:

  • It depends on the people and their ability to separate the personal from business
  • The type of work to be accomplished can play a role, too
  • The “level” of the employee is a major factor
  • Whatever it is, it should be consistent and fair to all employees

It’s no surprise that most people want a fun, friendly, but professional relationship with their boss.

What about when a co-worker becomes a boss?
Employees standing on the same rung of the corporate ladder often bond over their shared experience. However, when one of them takes a step up to a leadership position, the group dynamic is often forced to evolve. It can be a difficult process as you navigate the new relationship, but there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure a smooth transition.

  • Recognize that the relationship will be different
    Don’t assume that nothing is going to change. Your relationship will not be the same and many things will change—but it doesn’t have to be for the worse. Take time to have a discussion about what to expect, your concerns, and how you can help with the transition.
  • Set boundaries
    As coworkers on the same level, you likely had a more open working relationship, but when a team member moves into a new position of leadership, there are some new boundaries that need to be established. From having drinks after work to how you talk about issues among the team, a more professional decorum may be necessary going forward.
  • Offer Support and Congratulations
    Most importantly, you have to support the new leader. If they have worked hard to earn their promotion, it’s important to show you’re happy for their success and that you’ll be there for support as they settle into their new role.

What are some other ways to maintain a positive relationship with co-workers who become bosses? Let us know in the comments section below.

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One Response to The Results Are In: Employee/Boss Relationship Should Be Friendly—Not Too Personal

  1. Tim Hanousek December 19, 2017 at 7:55 am #

    Affirmation of work done well through positive reinforcement when the new leader catches his/her reports doing things right or well or went above what is expected. This would be a positive interaction that shows them you recognize their good work and at the same time reinforces your leadership.

    Also, ask for help from direct reports with process improvements so they see that you are taking ownership as a leader and as well as giving them ownership in improving some part of their duties or work-life.

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