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Being friends with your boss is a big ‘no-no,’ says workplace coach

While being close to your boss might seem like a good idea, having a personal relationship with them might actually make things complicated when it comes to making a “difficult decision,” according to leadership and workplace coach Phoebe Gavin.

“At the end of the day, if your boss’s boss says, ‘Hey, we can’t afford to employ your friend anymore. You need to lay them off,’ you know what your boss is going to do? [They’re] going to lay you off,” says Gavin to CNBC. “They might cry on the Zoom call with you, but they sure are going to hand you that pink slip.”

Gavin explained that at the end of the day, it’s just business, after all – whereas, the boss-employee friendship is bound to cause trouble, beyond the accusations of favoritism.

“Eventually there’s going to be a time when those two motives come into conflict,” she says. “Where their desire to do right by you is going to conflict with their responsibility to their job.”

She advised that in order to avoid this “awkwardness,” opt to “develop a warm, cordial relationship with your boss,” instead of being friends with them – starting by analyzing the company’s culture and by setting appropriate boundaries with your boss.

“(Ask yourself), ‘What is the culture of this company? And what is the culture of the industry?’ And then you want to check in with yourself,” Gavin says. “Just because everybody else is casual and talking about how they got wasted on the weekend doesn’t mean you have to do that.”

Gavin also mentioned that your relationship with your boss should be based solely on your job and not how well you get together based on your personality.

Clarifying that while interpersonal connections are important in the workplace, they shouldn’t be the foundation of your professional relationship with your boss and colleagues, “The foundation has to be the performance,” she said.


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