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How to Get the Right Balance between Friend and Boss

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 21 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Working Relationship Boss Friend

As you probably spend at least thirty seven hours a week, forty eight weeks a year at work, (scary, isn’t it?) it is a good idea to make your time there as good as it possibly can be.

There are no prizes for making your working life miserable - one of the ways that your daily life can be enjoyable and productive is to be in an environment where you feel encouraged, supported and happy.

What this article aims to do is illustrate how you can foster and promote this type of situation at work, without stepping over those all-too-invisible lines of boss and staff.

First off, serious flirting and affairs are a no-no. Whilst we all know it happens, this is most certainly going too far and it is not advisable on both a personal and professional level. This topic is discussed in another article on the site.

Understand Your Work Culture

Depending on the type of company you work for and the industry you work in, it may be that particularly friendly relationships are actively encouraged or discouraged. Organisations with an aggressive sales focus and a generally young, graduate workforce are often keen for their teams to go for drinks together after work, when targets are hit or when a particular task is completed. It is common for the team leader, manager or boss to pay for drinks for some or all of the outing and as the workforce is likely to be single, it is inevitable that close friendships and perhaps relationships can happen.

The irony here is that these companies regularly take you out for drinks and ‘bonding sessions’ but don’t seem to like it when their staff actually start getting into serious relationships. This may be because they like to maintain that aggressive, target focused environment and people in serious relationships are more likely to want to work in a less uncompromising job.

Now, the key issue is when the person you are forging a personal relationship with happens to be your boss. You may think that the most important consideration is discretion and whether they feel as strongly about you as you do about them. Assuming this is not just a crazy crush and your boss is in a perfectly happy marriage and, quite rightly, regards you as a valued staff member, actually the most important consideration is how to deal with the situation in a way that does not jeopardise your career and undermines your achievements.

Teachers Pet?

It is a desirable situation for you to feel like you can talk to your boss openly and honestly. This will help you feel encouraged and valued at work. What you don’t want is that you are considered the bosses favourite by your other colleagues.

If you are steadily becoming more friendly with your boss and would prefer to maintain a more professional relationship, do not make a big scene about it. Just gradually stop talking to them in such a personal way, meet with friends outside work and focus on being the best you can be at work. These situations can happen slowly, where your boss starts talking to you about a problem with their wife or husband or you have one glass of wine too many and say something you shouldn’t when you go for an after work drink.

If your boss is truly destined to be a good friend in your life, you should be able to talk about your friendship outside of work and both understand the negative implications it may have on both your own working relationship and how your colleagues see you. This is the same regardless of gender or attraction. There are plenty of potential friends and plenty of potential jobs. It would be a waste of your hard work to spoil an opportunity if your job is the ideal one for you and so too would it be a waste for you to loose a wonderful friend or potential partner if your job is just a way to pass some time – weigh up the most important factor and act on it, but do not mix the two too strongly.

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