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Manager and friend: a fine balance

07 January, 2015

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Date of Publication: 07 January, 2015
We all are humans, but in this case, we are humans stuffed in a building, meeting every day, working together with an objective: a ground as common as you can get to develop personal relationships, but…

When you are a manager and you are too close to your team, your decisions could be tainted by liking, chemistry, and personal preferences.

You are naturally going to be driven towards the direct reports you feel more “inclined” too, who are not necessarily the best men for a task.

You are going to hate conflict, just like when you are with your “out of office” peers.

You don’t want to upset people, you want them to like you, you want to show you respect them and their personal life, the one you have come to know too well.

Even if a personal relationship with your team seems a right, natural, idea, it will affect your people on the long run, by incapacitating no other than yourself. As a manager, as a leader, you have to take unpleasant measures, you cannot let something pass if it affects your team performance.

As much as you know that X is having a bad moment with his wife, and you know it because he told you so yesterday in a bar, you still have to push him toward an objective. Otherwise, you’ll have to make someone else do X’s work and this is not fair.

To make it even clearer, here are some differences between being a manager and a friend:

  • Friends are equals, you are a leader;
  • Friends accept each other as they are, you have to press your team to assess its performance;
  • Friendship exists for the sake of it, not to accomplish work.

The boss-subordinate relationship is a paradox, that is why often there’s a overlapping with friendship: it must be human and caring, friendly even, but without losing sight of its purpose: work.

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