How to draw the line between boss and friend

When you manage a staff, it’s only natural to want them to like you. But at the same time, it’s a mistake to get so chummy with employees that you lose your ability to lead them effectively.

The best managers walk a fine line by earning the respect of their team without going overboard and befriending everyone. Here’s how you can strike the proper balance:

Listen and learn

Many managers hate to hear all the problems their employees bring to them on a daily basis. But whether your workers raise personal or professional matters with you, reserve time for these discussions. Practice active listening.

Follow up

Here’s a simple way to show more kindness while still maintaining your professional distance: Ask followup questions about employees’ personal lives away from work.

If a subordinate tells you he intends to volunteer at a local hospital this weekend, ask how it went when you greet him next Monday. If an administrative assistant mentions that she’s taking a big exam in her night class tomorrow, remember to ask her about it later in the week.

Reject petty office gripes

Never allow employees to rattle off problems without proposing solutions. Otherwise, you may find yourself buried under the weight of all their crises.

If a worker starts complaining, interrupt and say, “I understand what’s bothering you. What steps are you taking to fix it?”