When you work with a team closely, colleagues turn into friends fast.
In the office, there has to be balance between friendly connections and clearly defined hierarchy.

This might seem harsh, but it’s crucial for the success of your team, business operations and the company.

5 Reasons Why Being Friends with Employees Will Backfire

Being a straightforward manager who knows how to set boundaries, still can inspire.

Here are just a few reasons why being friends with your employees can backfire.

1) It’s not scalable.

It’s human nature to make friends, but it’s not natural to be friends with everyone. When you get to the point of having some employees as friends, with others who are not, it comes across as unfair. Nepotism can sneak in and our bias toward ‘friends’ becomes an ugly whisper.

Even though it’s natural to not become friends with everyone you come into contact with, if you manage a team of employees, you have to treat them with equality which is hard to do when you are friends with only some of them.

If the latest news coming out of North American governments tells us anything, it’s that friends are not always trustworthy in work.

2) Day-to-day productivity may suffer.

Another natural part of friendship is to share emotions with each other. This is fine when it’s not on company time. When you are friends with your employees, it might be hard to properly distinguish company time versus friend time, and productivity may suffer when too much of your work day is filled with friendly chatter.

Yet, sharing in a personal way can create bonds and strengthen collaboration. Set aside an hour every other day, or a day once a week to commit to bonding with your staff. Maintain certain boundaries, but be open.

As a leader if any one of your team needs you, being there is the simplest thing to do.

3) Things can get complicated.

This is quite obvious, but manager and employee friendships can really complicate everything in the office.

From making other employees feel left out to dealing with problems fairly. Friendships can strip away the positive yet productive team morale you’ve worked so hard to build.

Managers need to identify when favouritism is sneaking in, and ensure all team members have equal opportunity.

4) You may share things that you shouldn’t.

Part of the draw of friendship is the ability to share information, be candid, and even rant with another person. If this friendship is with an employee from your office, you may accidentally share too much information.

You can get into serious trouble for sharing confidential information with another employee. Make sure when you have a brainstorm out of the office, your friend is aware of the project or has clearance.

If they don’t, make it vague or say nothing at all.

5) It’s hard to discipline or fire a friend.

As team lead, you will have to fire or discipline each member of your team. It becomes harder when ‘as a friend’ they see a more casual side to management.

While these scenarios are already hard to do as an impartial, it gets even more stressful when you have to carry out these actions with a friend.

Become a Strong Team Leader

Find out more ways to become a strong and successful leader or get help finding top talent in your area by talking to the experts at

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