So you think you’re a hard working employee. Maybe you exceed company expectations in almost every measurable category directly pertaining to your position. You’ve put in a couple years of dedicated service, and in this time frame you’ve managed to befriend your boss. Your boss happens to be female, and occasionally you informally socialize with her outside of the workplace.
You’ve been respectful in the past and have established a solid rapport with her. Does the existence of this informal relationship give you the right to stretch the rules of the work environment? “She likes me. She’ll let me get away with a little tardiness. Won’t she?” It’s this kind of attitude that quickly eats away at the relationship and dismantles all levels of the trust and respect you’ve constructed in the past.
I’m a young female professional, and yes, I am the boss. I’m fair and compassionate, but I expect results. I certainly expect my employees to follow the rules, but above all I expect honesty. Because I choose to occasionally socialize with my employees in an informal setting, they sometimes feel that they can use this as a free pass to slack off at work. When this occurs, I find myself in an uncomfortable situation.
If I let them slide, my reputation as a fair manager is in jeopardy. The image I portray and the example I set becomes tarnished. Other employees see me favoring their peers over themselves and quickly become displeased. My credibility is lost. If I take the necessary disciplinary action, I personally feel horrible. Punishing or firing someone that you’ve established an informal relationship with can be disheartening.
In the end it basically comes down to “me or them”. Their unethical behavior will either negatively affect my professional reputation, or I must hold them accountable for their actions. This is something many of my employees continuously overlook. They don’t see the immediate affect their actions have on me. They don’t understand that the compassion I show outside of the workplace is completely unrelated to my leniency at work.
Does my sex have something to do with their misinterpretation of reality? I know females are typically seen as more empathetic than their male counterparts. So do they think I’m a pushover? Who knows. Some may say that one way to avoid the situation is to cease the habit of informal socialization. But, that would be a sad situation. I truly believe the fostering of an informal relationship can increase overall employee moral and ambition. I know it can easily benefit both parties. Employees just need to follow the basic rules.
Do you informally socialize with your boss? If so, allow me to layout a concise summation of my experiences and expectations. I’ll make this really short and sweet. Here’s a quick reality check of what not to do, and how to harness this informal relationship and use it to your advantage:
There is a distinct separation between business and pleasure. Believe me, your boss understands this fact. Don’t cross the line by believing that a stronger informal relationship gives you the ability to break the rules of the workplace. Also, bragging to your coworkers about the conversations you had with your boss can easily start negative rumors. This will reflect poorly on your perceived honesty and dedication.
React like this…
Reinforce the informal relationship by proving yourself within the workplace. Instead of slacking off, do the exact opposite. Take pride in your work, and go the extra mile. If your boss takes the time to get to know a little more about your personal life, she probably holds you in high regard. Don’t screw it up by disrespecting her authority in a professional atmosphere. Instead, use it to your advantage. If your boss likes you, she will be willing to spend more time assisting you, training you, and ultimately promoting you. The choice is yours. You can lose your credibility, or you can place yourself on the fast track for promotion. It should be a no-brainer.