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Thread: Being the Boss vs. the friend

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    Default Being the Boss vs. the friend

    Our business was a family business. With mom and dad retired it is me, a bookkeeper and a laborer. I've never been a manager or boss before and I finding the transition difficult. I've been reading up on on this issue, but most of what I've read seems to be for businesses larger than mine. I find it hard to believe I will not be friendly with my coworkers since we are such a small business. I definitely see the pitfall to being a friend - I could let stuff slide and it might be difficult reprimanding. Any thoughts?

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    Nothing wrong with being friendly nor being a friend; however, you will need clear boundaries that should not be crossed and the employees need to understand that just because you're friendly you won't be a pushover either.
    Brad Miedema
    Fulcrum Saw & Tool

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    I would agree with Brad. There is a difference between being friendly and being a friend. I like a positive atmosphere in my business and try to be friendly to everyone. With most I chat with them and am friendly but I don't go golfing with them or invite them home for dinner. Now some of the office people I have been friendly with, particularly the sales people since we would go to trade shows together and go to dinner after the show.

    I did get into a bad habit of being a sucker for a sob story. I would have employees come to me and ask for a loan and I always feel sorry for people with problems and was an easy touch. I would say if I got 20% of what I loaned out back I was lucky. I will share one story, maybe I have told it before but at the risk of repeating myself here goes.

    I had a young guy who had worked for me for a year and seemed like a good worker. He came to me and said he was about to lose his house and asked if he could borrow 8K to save his house and I could take out 50 bucks or so from each paycheck until it was paid back. I agreed. He want out that night and bought a dog for $ 800.00. About two months later we noticed money missing out of our petty cash. I set up a hidden camera and it was him. I fired him. One of my other workers when over to his house for something and noticed he had a number of our pumps in his kitchen that we paid $ 500.00 each for. They would be something easy to sell on eBay or Craigslist. I finally learned my lesson and quit being a bank.

    Most any business has a culture. I tend to try and promote a positive pleasant workplace where we are all working together to have success in the marketplace and to have satisfied customers. Some businesses may try to be a place where people work in fear of losing their job. I would rather flip burgers than run my business that way.
    Ray Badger, Turbo Technologies, Inc.
    www.TurboTurf.com www.IceControlSprayers.com

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    Be friendly with everyone around you need not be friends with everyone. Just be polite, humble and respect them so they feel they are valued and are important.

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    This are people that you will be spending 8+ hours with every day. Of course you can be friendly. But you also have to be able to draw a line between being friendly and make good business decisions. Caring about your employees is generally an advantage, but some advice against it because it make some decision really suck. I had to let go a really nice employee that tried really hard, but just could do her job. I hated doing it. But, she needed to leave and find work that was suited to her.
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    I've gone from being one of the "guys" to being the manager many times when I worked in Hospitality and it can be tricky but you can pull it off, still run the place, and still be friendly with people. Even go out for drinks with them except now it's as a boss or team leader, not as one who goes out to complain about the boss. But some of those outings can work in your favor to discuss issues, kick around ideas, get inside info on things happening on the ground floor and many other benefits of having a friendly, close relationship with your team.

    Here are the things that I've found have helped me over the years do both and keep the respect of the employees under me.

    1. You have to be the best at your job. It's a lot easier to retain the respect when the promotion makes sense because you were the best employee at the job. If you get promoted through nepotism, or some other kind of hook up you walk into the position without much respect and it's hard to make up that ground until you prove yourself on many fronts.

    2. Continue to be the best. Employees respect bosses who can still do the work, and will still go the extra mile to get it done. If you don't lead by example...again, loss of respect.
    3. Put the team first. Always have your team's back and they will have yours.
    4. Don't have favorites. Treat everyone the same, and expect the same from everyone. If you let certain people get away with things that you wouldn't let others get away with, again..loss of respect and they'll resent you.
    5. Don't sleep with employees. If you were seeing an coworker before the promotion, either end it or find a way to make it work so that it's not a conflict of interest or causes you to treat them differently. If they expect special treatment from you, you will be put in bad situations that could cost you the position...or worse, get you sued.
    6. Praise good work, and correct bad work or performances. You cannot be afraid of confrontation, nor can you be a hard ass that never appreciates anything.
    7. It's better to have respect than fear. If they respect you they have your back and may even come to your aid if you need them. If they fear you or don't feel like you have their backs, they'll throw you under the bus the first chance they get.

    Everyone who is good at a job is not leadership material. Some people just need to find their way or style of leadership. Don't be afraid to reach out to others in leadership positions to talk things out and get advice.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 01-03-2019 at 10:17 AM.

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    I would recommend reading the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud. It lays out how to separate exactly what you are asking about. It is not geared towards any sized business it is more about you, the leader. I will tell you there is some basis in Christianity, not knowing where you stand on that I would say take it in stride as you read.

    That said, I also think everyone here has given good advise. I would add that these people may have been your co-workers for some time and you may have developed excellent even very close relationships with them but there needs to be some onus on them to realize that you are their boss now. You need to do everything in your power to make that transition smooth but they need to come around to it and those who don't may need to be addressed differently.

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    Hi Bobjob! You ask a great question, and have already received some great responses! If I may add, one thing that could be helpful in how you address and communicate with your formerly-peer, now-employees could be to very clearly state what your intent IS and IS NOT. It might seem a little weird at first, but it can help you to clarify how your messages are received by others. It might sound something like this: "Hey team, I want to make sure we're all on the same page going forward with what I expect to see when we greet our customers. My intent is to make sure that we all have the same rules and expectations; my intent is NOT to harm the relationships we have built with our customers up to this point."

    While there are some other tips I could recommend, I've seen some great work in building trust and helping transitions simply in clarifying intent. I hope this helps!

    Erin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobjob View Post
    Our business was a family business. With mom and dad retired it is me, a bookkeeper and a laborer. I've never been a manager or boss before and I finding the transition difficult. I've been reading up on on this issue, but most of what I've read seems to be for businesses larger than mine. I find it hard to believe I will not be friendly with my coworkers since we are such a small business. I definitely see the pitfall to being a friend - I could let stuff slide and it might be difficult reprimanding. Any thoughts?

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