boundaries-lir.pngIn the last year I met several people that had a subordinate as a close friend. Having a friend or partner who is a subordinate requires high degrees of trust, explixit communication, bounderies and judgment on both parts. It’s not possible with every work relationship. 5 Tips:

1. Be impeccable in your communications and set boundaries. Both parties must be mature and have enough self-esteem to build trust over time.
2. Set expectations at the start. Take the time to brief and de-brief. Discuss only the assignment on content and process.
3. Be clear about your roles in conversation. Explicitly setting norms together for how you will work and play creates equality and equanimity in your friendship.
4. Be transparent with others. Others might feel awkward disclosing their feelings about your employee, especially if they have negative feedback. They might wonder if you’ll hold their comments against them, or if you might unduly influence the outcome of the discussion. On the other hand, you might know more than you’re supposed to bring into the professional setting.
5. Do your job. Be direct and prompt in communications — especially when it comes to negative feedback or unpleasant news, like a layoff. Even if you’re afraid of hurting your friend’s feelings or fear they might get defensive, speak up, but be prepared that there may be rocky times or even long breaks in your relationship.

Friendships are based on mutual trust and transparency. Navigating manager-employee friendships is tricky, especially when, as a boss, you’re privy to information that your employee is not. The work friendships that survive are also based on trust and transparency: transparency about the boundaries within which you will be able to communicate and trust that your actions are professional, not personal.

Harvard Business Review: Sabina Nawaz