Can you be friends with your boss?

For this third and last blog, I would like to raise a point we did not speak about during the lecture. However, I had the chance to share my opinion with some students during one of the group sessions. Indeed, during more than ten minutes, we discussed about this question: “Can you be friends with your boss?” We had an interesting debate this is why I wanted to share it with you. First of all, this question seems obvious but actually it is more complicated and controversial than it looks like.

Many years ago, nobody asked this question. Indeed, it seemed impossible than an employee had a kind of friendship with his boss. The hierarchy was strong and few bosses shared relationship with their employee. Therefore, a friendship was impossible. However, the structure and the design of organizations are changing due to globalization and internationalization. The hierarchy is becoming more and more flat. The team working is increasing in each company. All this factors lead to this trend where bosses must have more direct contacts and relationships with their employees. Therefore, friendship is now possible between employees and bosses. But is it sustainable and efficient?

The opinion about a friendship between boss and employee are divergent. Some specialists say that it is efficient for the company, others say that it reduces the efficiency. I strongly believe that first of all it depends on the culture of the country where the organization is located, on the company’s culture and on its size. Do you prefer working with someone you appreciate or with someone you do not like? I am sure you answer easily to this question.

In my opinion, friendship encourages employees to work harder and push him to accomplish his goals as the best as he can. But where should be the line drawn? Working in an environment where you know that you are supported is always easier than the contrary. The employee trusts his boss and wants to stay in the company. It is easier to speak to his boss when you know him, when he appreciates you and when he know he will be receptive.

On the other hand, a friendship could also be dangerous. How the other employees are going to react if their boss promotes his closer friend in the company? They are going to think that he was not been promoted because of his capacities but because of his friendship. We can outline others examples where it is complicated to be friend whit his boss:

–          It is always difficult to give feedback to a friend
–          During a restructuration maybe the boss will have to tell it to his friend that his is fired which is never easy.
–          Friendship is based on equality, while the first aim of a boss is to be superior.
–          …

For all this reasons, it is very difficult that a friendship and a professionalism relationship co-exist at the same time.

To conclude, I will say that boss must build relationship with their employee. It is really important to increase the efficiency of the company and of the employee. Nevertheless, bosses have always to be aware that being close friends with an employee is not easy to handle. Therefore, in my opinion they should be careful of the possible friendship they could have with their employee. The boss and the employee have to draw the line between their relationship and their friendship, it is essential to be effective.

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