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Friendship with your Direct Reports
July 02, 2013

Friendship with your Direct Reports

If you have direct reports, you have probably asked yourself this question: "Is it appropriate to make friends with my direct reports?"

To help you out with this dilemma - I will ask you two questions and give you two facts:

First question:

Do you find it appropriate for you to make friends with your direct reports outside of work?

The answer of course - it is up to you - you choose your friends.

But when you are on the job - the nature of the relationship you have with your direct reports outside of work must be irrelevant.

On the job - you are their boss and they are your direct reports. Period.

Among other things, you get paid to manage the performance of your direct reports - you do not get paid to nurture friendships at work.

Second question:

If your direct reports are your friends - may you allow them to perform below expectations?

The answer is a resounding "no"

Friendship is friendship - and work is work. Friendship and Work are two different and separate things.

Within the realm of friendship there is room for a variety of possibilities - within the realm of work there is room for only one outcome: To deliver expected results.

Also - keep in mind these two facts …

First fact:

Performance management is an objective task.

Why is performance management an objective task?

Performance management is an objective task because performance is the sum of behaviors plus results.

And both - behaviors and results - are observable, tangible and measurable (both are objective).

The more objective you are, the more effective you become as a manager and the better results you get from your direct reports - and vice versa.

Friendship involves thoughts, emotions and feelings - friendship is subjective by nature.

If you allow friendship to mix with the way you mange the performance of your direct reports, you might find it more difficult to be objective - and you might not get the results you want.

Second fact:

When you do performance management (which you usually do on a daily basis) - it is much easier to be objective when you do not have any type of personal relationship with your direct reports.

Objectivity is key in performance management - and it is much more difficult to be objective when you do have friendships with your direct reports.

Keep this fact in mind.


You may make friends with your direct reports outside of work IF you are truly capable of distinguishing friendship from work.

If you properly manage the performance of your "friends" on the job, if your friendship with your direct reports does not get in the way of your performance as a boss - then by all means - you may go ahead.

But if you are not capable of keeping friendship and work neatly separated - then, for your own good and for the good of the organization - stay away from making friends with your direct reports.

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See you next month!
Jose Luis Romero - Publisher
July 2, 2013. Copyright: All rights reserved
I publish "Leader Newsletter" on the first Tuesday of every month
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