Getting too close to your employees has to be one of the thorniest topics out there for managers.
I get it. You see these people day in, day out. If a deadline is on (or if you work for a startup), sometimes you could see them more than your own family!
They are great individuals, funny, hardworking, and caring. But here's the crux of the matter: You are their boss, not their friend! This line is made far more difficult to draw when, as their manager, you are supposed to know all about your team, from their fears to their weaknesses to their life goals. You encourage them to come to you with issues not related to work--from marriage breakdowns and health scares to personal tragedies.
Naturally, with all that knowledge and understanding, you form a relationship with each employee. That's completely normal.
But how do you avoid getting too personal with the staff?
We asked our Radiate experts how they tackle this, and here's what they had to say.
"Don't overshare," said Kim Scott, the co-founder of Radical Candor. "You're not a shrink." The leadership expert instead advocates forming a more human connection by learning about your employee within the framework of education and career.
Before starting a new role, Betty Cohen, the president of Betty Cohen Media Consulting, draws a clear line between her working life and her personal life. "You can be extremely friendly, you can even do things after work, but my weekends, for example, are mine," she said in a recent interview on Radiate. "And any expectation that I'm going to get together with people from work on the weekend? It's not something I do,"
PwC partner and business development leader Mitch Roschelle made a pact with himself when he became a manager that he would avoid overtly social work functions. "There comes a point where you become management and they become employees, and it just changes," he said. "You just have to realize that boundaries protect everybody." The reasoning behind this, for Mitch, is to uphold the respect he has for his employees. "I don't want to see somebody who works for me compromising themselves by drinking too much, because I can't unsee that," he said. "If I see somebody sloppy drunk at an after-work function, I'm always going to think of that person differently."