workplace professionalism

When you run a small business with only a handful of people, things may be pretty informal.  This makes it very easy to fall into the trap of becoming too friendly with your employees. It’s absolutely the right thing to be friendly with those that are grinding with you daily to make your business successful. But, overdo it and you risk hindering business goals and causing chaos.  Here are 3 negative consequences to being too friendly with your employees.

1. It Jeopardizes your Authority – Getting too close to your employees can upset the power differential and create confusion about roles and responsibilities in the office because of the interactions that occur outside the office.   As the “boss”, it is critical that your direction and decisions be respected.   Friendship can easily blur the employee/employer line, potentially leading to your employees not taking your direction seriously or even worse, creating a sense that there won’t be consequences for not following your lead.

2. Productivity Suffers – Attempting to be friends with your employees makes providing corrective feedback more challenging than it already is.  When you think of your employees as your friends, it’s harder to reprimand, harder to discipline, and harder to ask them to do the work they need to do because all of a sudden, you’re concerned that they will take it personally or that it will ruin your friendship or working relationship.   Employee productivity is dependent upon candid feedback that is focused on the task not feelings.

3. Business Decisions Become Complicated – Imagine having to terminate a close friend.  When you become too friendly with your employees the emotional connection may cause you to overlook mistakes or avoid tough decisions you need to make for the sake of your business.  Your friendship with employees should never influence your decisions about raises, assignments, layoffs and terminations or you will be led down a road of accusations of favoritism or worse, allegations of discriminatory practices.

It’s tricky to remember that you’re the boss, not a friend when running a small business.  While having a friendly relationship with your employees can contribute to their overall job satisfaction and create a positive company culture, when the relationship is more like a buddy than a boss, you will encounter challenges.  Being a leader/business owner isn’t always fun, but it’s important that you do what’s best for your business AND your employees.  Need more management tips, contact us at or visit