Subject: Can you be friends with your Boss?
So you landed your dream internship/grad job/entry-level role. You spent hours researching and picking out the perfect capsule career-girl wardrobe (thank you Pinterest for the streams of #suitgoals #inspo pictures to guide us!). You have navigated the good coffee in the break room, and are on first-name terms with the receptionist (hey Sandra!). You are now getting to know your new boss, quirks and all. You know that she/he has a dog called ‘Chip’ and enjoys kayaking at the weekends. But what happens from this point? Do you launch in and begin a blossoming best-buddy friendship with your boss? Or, do you nervously laugh at their jokes, keep your head down and pray that they don’t discover that you once entered (and won) a pizza eating competition?
There are many arguments for and against being friends with your boss, and it can be said that each situation may vary. I have had bosses who I have been able to turn to at times of need, who I have laughed with until my stomach hurts at apres-work drinks, and have actually now good friends. But this is probably now that they are no longer my boss.
Bosses can act as a mentor and someone to look up to. You want a boss that is approachable, inspiring and who generates new ideas (and encourages you to do so too!) But there are steps to consider before becoming friends with your boss as it can quickly become a complicated business.
What will your peers think of your friendship?
Your colleagues may think that you are favoured over them which will cause tension in itself. If you get promoted, your colleagues may view this partiality as a reason for your success. A close friendship with your boss can throw off the whole balance in a team, when actually you should be working constructively with your team, who feel that they can trust you.
Where do the boundaries stop?
Every conversation that you have with your boss will be tinged with sensitivity as you may begin to over-analyse everything that they say. Constructive feedback may be viewed as a subtle dig at you. Or on the other side of the scale, they may feel that they have to sugar-coat everything in order to protect your feelings.
Is there a risk that your career could be impacted if the relationship goes south?
If so, enter with caution. If you are in a role that is going to advance your career then you will want to be careful with getting into a close friendship with your boss, as it could impact prospects with future employers. People know people. People talk. Make sure that is not about you...
Sometimes it is a good idea to separate your personal life and work life. If you are crying to your boss for the eighteenth time about how your boyfriend chose to go out with the boys instead of cooking fajita’s for you, their respect and patience levels may begin to dwindle and things may start to become tricky at work.
So, our advice is: be friendly with your boss, stay professional, but remain human. If you can remain emotionally mature, there is no harm with being friends with your boss. But be sure to put boundaries in place (as your boss should do too), but enjoy their company in the workplace.