Can You be Friends with Someone Who Reports to You?

In one word – yes. That said, you don’t want to screw up a friendship up or, just as bad, fail as a leader. Maybe you’ve recently been promoted and you’re now supervising a friend. Or perhaps you’ve really hit it off with someone who’s just joined your staff. Either way, finding the balance between managing and befriending employees can be a difficult task.

While we all want to get along with our employees, it’s important to draw some boundaries to ensure a fair work environment for everyone.

Here are 3 ways to maintain a friendship with one of your employees:

  1. Make your expectations clear.

Setting expectations from the very beginning is crucial. While the two of you can still be friends, it’s important that you are up front about what you can and cannot share, such as possible layoffs, promotions or corporate news that hasn’t been released. You don’t want to put your friend in an awkward position, nor do you want others feeling as though they are at a disadvantage. As a boss, your priority is to create a fair work environment for all your staff members.

  1. Do your job.

There’s a reason you hold a supervisory position, so let your performance reflect that. As important as it is to have work friends, make sure that you treat your friend the same way as you do the rest of your coworkers in the workplace. Tell your friend that your work interactions need to remain professional and that you must maintain a balance between work and friendship.

  1. Be straightforward about your role.

Whether you are talking at work or hanging out together after, make sure that your one-on-one conversations remain principled. Decide what information is off-limits for discussion and know when you need to cut the conversation off. Although you may not be in the office when the two of you are speaking, it’s critical to remember that some information must remain confidential.

Friendships are important. So is finding the balance between work and friendship. For more on socializing your coworkers, check out this blog post.