Can A Boss Be Friends With Employees?

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Posted 7-Oct -2020

Before delving deep into this extremely subjective topic, first, we need to answer this – should a boss and employee be friends? Again, every person has a distinct opinion to it, but it also significantly depends on what we mean when we say “being friends”. Honestly, it is amazing to have a sweet, warm relationship with your boss and seniors based on mutual respect and understanding.

But anything beyond that – like making plans outside of work, inviting each other over family dinners, or sharing intimate details of your life – it’s very tricky waters, and that’s where you need to know how to draw a line. Workplace friendships go a long way only if one knows how to set boundaries and maintain a healthy professional relationship.

Regardless of how well you get along with your colleagues and teammates, your friendship should not come in the way of your work, especially in the crucial situations like reviewing their performance, providing constructive feedback, making decisions on promotions, and sometimes letting people go. Your responsibility as a boss and a team leader should be your priority, so do not let your workplace camaraderie supersede that no matter what. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages and disadvantages of workplace friendships –


  1. Workplace friendships result in improved productivity and work efficiency in most of the cases
  2. Owing to your personal equation, you know each other better and can develop greater trust, empathy, and respect
  3. When a boss and employee are friends, work does not feel like work, and they tend to help and support each other more
  4. Work is more fun and engaging when people have mutual respect and admiration for each other


  1. If anything goes wrong in your personal dynamic with your boss, it just does not stop there. It can seriously impact your reputation at the office, mental health and cause other damages as well
  2. Even if there is no preferential treatment, other people at work may not treat your friendship that way. This conflict may put your position as a boss at risk where management would feel that your workplace relationships are barging into your role as a leader.
  3. Being close to one of your team members can put the whole team off-balance and at the risk of falling out

How Can You Make It Work

Just because there are some disadvantages, it won’t be right to say no to workplace friendships. It is an act of balancing which people involved in a relationship must master to maintain both work and camaraderie simultaneously. Here are a few basic tips that can prove helpful –

  1. Be emotionally mature, transparent, and professional when needed
  2. When things look rough, do not let your personal feelings and emotions send you off-track
  3. Take the feedback and criticism at work professionally and do not let it harm your friendship
  4. Be mindful of the power dynamics and strong enough to address them

Sharing a friendly rapport with your bosses can be wonderful and help you learn a lot from their experiences and challenges in life, but it can also awfully backfire. The best way to maintain these relationships is with maturity, well-defined limits and mindfulness.

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