Are You a Boss or a Friend? How To Manage Your Work Relationships

One of the most unexpected challenges that small business owners must face is managing their employees, especially when they hire friends or family members. Without the traditional HR structure, or if you embrace the “everyone does everything” mindset, lines can quickly become blurred between boss and friend. Your first instinct might be to keep things casual, but this can actually inhibit the growth and profitability of the business.

While of course you want to remain friendly and kind with your employees, it’s important to keep your role clear. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to deal with already tough decisions, such as salaries, promotions, and firing employees. You must always be the employer first, and the friend second.

If you don’t maintain this separation, your employees will walk all over you. If you have someone who consistently shows up late or performs unsatisfactory work, they’ll have the opinion of “what are they going to do, fire me?” Keeping employees on your payroll who don’t respect you or your business, even if they are a friend, will not make you a successful company. Before things get out of hand, you need to set boundaries and create a healthy boss-employee relationship in the office.

Consider Who You Hire

Before you begin hiring someone, rethink if you’re adding them to the payroll just because they’re a family member. Hire someone who is best for the job, not just Uncle Billy because he needs a job. Feelings may get hurt, but if they are not qualified, they can do more damage than good when it comes to the success of your business. It’s worth in the long run to find the best employee possible.

Be Direct

You need to have a direct conversation with each employee with whom you have a personal background about the nature of your business relationship. This means being clear about what the goals are, how your employees are to help you accomplish them, and what they can expect from you. Make sure that everyone has a role and responsibilities that are spelled out and are very clear to avoid conflict later on.

Keep it Confidential

Confidential work information like salaries, hiring and firing decisions, and quarterly earnings must never be shared with someone who should not have the information, or you’ll lose credibility. If your daughter is the secretary, she should not have more Intel about the business than someone with more seniority.

Follow the Law

As a small business owner, you might think some employee laws and regulations are only for those with more workers. However, there are laws that kick in even with your first hire. Plenty of small businesses have been completely destroyed by a lawsuit when an employer thought the law didn’t apply because the company was too small or because the owner assumed employees would never “betray” the company by suing. Be informed from day one, and follow the rules.

Stay Friendly

Many employees nowadays, especially millennial, are interested in having a personal relationship with their coworkers and managers. You shouldn’t let your position of power keep you from being friendly, kind, and encouraging open communication. You don’t need to invite your employees over for dinner, but asking how their weekend went or hosting office-wide events can help you connect on a personal level without going too far.

Be Open

Make sure your team knows they always have a safe space to share their ideas and concerns, and make sure they know they are being heard. You never know where your next innovation might come from, plus an encouraging environment builds trust and positive morale.

Keep Work and Personal Life Separate

If you do work with family members or close friends, keep things separate. It could be that you don’t talk about work after 6 pm, or you take separate rides to work so you can unwind. It’s important to plan things like family dinners or vacations that allow you to reconnect as family members, so you don’t only become business partners.

these are some valuable lessons I learned in the MSP’s that I worked in or was an executive.  I hope you found these thoughts valuable;e.  Want to talk about your experience, give me a call, email me or make a comment below.

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