Should I be friends with my boss?

April 01 2014

Julia Richardson By Julia Richardson – You want to be on good terms with your boss, but is it ever appropriate to be friends with your boss? The short answer is yes, of course. The devil, as they say, is in the details and depends on the nature of the friendship.

With those details in mind, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you find yourself becoming friends with your boss.

Don’t Mix Business with Pleasure
A friendship with your boss is one thing, but there is a fine line that cannot be crossed. A romantic relationship is completely off-limits and something that should not be done. A romantic relationship is not the only problem, however. Even within the confines of friendship alone, you must actively work to keep work separate from your friendship; otherwise the friendship could strain your relationship in both areas.

bossfriendsDo Set Boundaries
In order to keep business and pleasure separate, it is important to set boundaries with your boss. A friendship with your boss is not an inherently bad idea, but it is one that should be pursued and maintained with caution.

Don’t Lie to your Coworkers about your Friendship
If you are hanging out with your boss outside of work, it is only a matter of time before your coworkers find out or become suspicious. If you lie about the relationship or aren’t transparent, it can raise suspicion and your other office relationships may suffer. There may be a bit of inner-office gossip and chatter, but it will not look half as bad as it would have if you are deceitful and lie about your friendship.

Do Keep your Friendship in the Open
Act naturally and be transparent with your coworkers. Let it be known that you are friends with your boss. Honesty does not mean that you will not face any ridicule for your promotion to “friend.” Forbes writer Jennifer Winter recounts a friendship with her boss at a time when her then-company went through a layoff, and the fallout that occurred after she was the only one retained. You guessed it; her coworkers were less than impressed.

Don’t Ignore Company Rules
If your company rules dictate that friendships among bosses and their employees are against policy, it’s best to keep your relationship a professional one. Don’t ignore company rules, as it can easily cost you your job.

Do Maintain a Professional Friendship
Fraternizing outside of work may be frowned upon, but there is no reason that you can’t have a positive relationship with your boss at work. The difference in this friendship and a typical friendship is that it begins and ends at work. While there is mutual respect and comradory, there are no after hours parties and socializing.

Ultimately, there is rarely any right or wrong answer as to whether or not you should or should not be friends with your boss (providing that it’s not against company policy), but only guidelines to follow in order to ensure that a friendship with your boss is built upon a healthy foundation.

Have you ever been friends with your boss? If so, how did it go?

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