Are your employee friendships getting in the way?

Are your employee friendships getting in the way?

In this video, I talk about how to maintain your friendships at work when you’re the boss. Friendships at work are complicated because as the boss, you have to make hard decisions that your employees may disagree or be unhappy with. Are your friendships with your employees getting in the way of your decision-making?

Transcript Highlights

Jo Ling Kent:
There’s plenty of research out there supporting the idea that having friends at work makes you happier and a little more engaged. Here’s what the research does not address, friendships at work are tricky especially if you’re the boss. So tricky in fact that many senior leaders try to avoid them. Isn’t it possible to actually have friends and still be the boss? Peter Bregman joins us with some helpful tips on how to keep those important relationships intact. Welcome.

Peter Bregman:
Thank you. Nice to be here.

Jo Ling Kent:
What is the advice? What are the expert saying on how to manage these important relationships at the office?

Peter Bregman:
First of all, what you said is true which is a lot of people avoid them. People tell me that and they would rather not have friends at work. They don’t want to be personal with any because it complicates things. You have to make hard decisions at work. If you’re going to make hard decisions and maybe they involve a friend of yours, and now that decision is harder to make or you’re going to feel worst about it or if your spouse or partner knows the person. Now, suddenly it’s gotten more complicated.

Jo Ling Kent:
Multilayered.

Peter Bregman:
Multilayered. The first thing, I have four pieces of advice that I suggest around that. The first is be super committed and connected to what you want for your business. It’s very easy to spiral out of control when you’re confused about what’s important to you. If you really know that you have a clear and transparent and complete commitment to your business then you understand what’s important and what’s not important.

That’s going to be really useful when friends of yours or other people, because by definition people will disagree with directions that you’re going. Everybody always has that situation . . . . At that point you have to be so committed that you can recognize when your friendship might be getting in the way of your decision making. If you’re really committed to the business you’ll know where that boundary is and where that line is. That’s the first one.

Jo Ling Kent:
To be mission specific, no . . . and understand that clarity.

Peter Bregman:
Exactly. Tip number two: Be comfortable with strong emotions. If you’re going to have friends at work, you’re going to have strong emotions. If someone disagrees with you, if someone has a hard time or even you’re super connected to someone, you’re going to have emotions. You’re going to have to deal with their emotions, you’re going to have to deal with your own emotions.

To become comfortable with the fact that those emotions can’t determine the decisions that you make, right? You still have to be clear about the decisions that you’re going to make and you have to withstand the . . . emotions that may occur when you’re making decisions and not everybody is happy with it.

Jo Ling Kent:
It sounds like you have to develop specific skills, right?

Peter Bregman:
Yeah, you have to develop the skills of empathy. The third thing is friendship skills . . . . You have to be really effective at communicating. You have to be really good at empathizing. You have to be able to listen without also giving away what’s important to you. There’s a lot of times when you see people either empathize or assert. They either stand strong in what they care about and don’t listen, or they listen and give away what they care about.

To be a really good friend and to be a really boss, you have to be able to do both really well. You have to be able to listen and empathize and at the same time to be able to assert your perspective.

Jo Ling Kent:
That brings us quickly to number four: Be prepared to lose the friendship. How do you sum this up in one mind?

Peter Bregman:
It happens sometimes and have enough friends that in the end everything you’re able to do ends up with losing the friendship, you’re not at a loss.

Jo Ling Kent:
Peter Bregman . . . thank you so much for joining us today.

Peter Bregman:
It’s so nice to be here.

Jo Ling Kent:
Check him out, peterbregman.com for more information. Thanks so much for watching. We’ll see you next time.


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