I get it, I really do. You spend 40 or more hours a week with the people you hired, so it’s understandable that you’d start to form friendships. But once you start a business, you’ve got to draw a line between being friendly with your staff and trying to be their friend. The difference between the two is where the respect you need from them lies.

How to Be Friendly (Without Going Overboard)

Any office functions better when the staff gets along. In our office, you’ll hear people asking about their colleague’s weekends on Monday mornings, and often they’ll go to lunch together. I’m right there, engaging in dialogue with my team, but there’s a point at which I stop. Usually, that’s in oversharing personal details. My motto is: if I’m willing to share it on Facebook, I can share it around the office. If not, I keep it to myself.

Now, if you’ve read Nellie’s content on this blog, you know we’re big family people. And my staff knows that. They know the kids, and ask about them all the time. It’s my personal choice to be open about my family, and I make sure to ask about my staff’s family as well.

When You’ve Gone Too Far

So how do you know if you go overboard in the friendliness? Here’s an imagined scenario: you get chummy with an employee and go out for drinks occasionally. After a particularly late night, he comes in two hours late. Since you were out with him, he figures he gets a pass, since he was with the boss. In no way is this okay. While you may have struck up a friendship outside of work, he needs to respect your authority as his boss in the office.

You see why it gets complicated when you try to have friends in the office. You don’t want anyone to think you’re giving that guy special treatment because of your friendship. It’s not fair to your staff. So it’s better to keep some distance and stay on the other side of that line.

Remember: you hired people to help you take your business up a notch. Muddying the waters only keeps you from that success in growing your business.