Most of us spend more time with our work colleagues than we spend with our families, so it is inevitable that friendships develop and people spend time with each other outside of the workplace. But when it comes to the relationship dynamic between a manager and members of their team, it’s different, or it should be.
As an HR manager, you might have to deal with team issues that arise from situations like:
- New managers taking over teams, trying to win them over and being more of a friend than a boss, which has led to disciplinary or performance issues.
- Accidental managers who have been promoted to manage people they were previously ‘equal’ to. The team members still see them as ‘one of them’ so there is a lack of respect for their leadership.
Forming too close a relationship with team members makes a manager’s job more difficult, and there are some lines that should never be crossed. However, managers should still show people that they care. It’s a tough balancing act. Here’s how new managers can get the boss/friend balance right.
Why managers need to get the balance right
- Management includes making some tough decisions and giving employees unbiased feedback. Carrying out an impartial evaluation of someone you’re close to is very difficult, not to mention giving them negative feedback, or even letting them go.
- It’s important that managers avoid showing favouritism, as this can cause deep resentment in a team. People need to know that the same opportunities and rewards are open to everyone and that managers will make their decisions based on performance.
- Team members need to know that they are not above disciplinary action. The closer a manager’s personal relationship with them is, the more the lines can become blurred. If someone is not performing well or there are other issues with their conduct, this needs to be discussed candidly, and not swept under the carpet because they’re a friend.
- discussed candidly, and not swept under the carpet because they’re a friend.
Getting the balance right
If a manager is a naturally open and friendly person, I’m not saying they should develop a heart of stone, far from it. Managers don’t have to be a team member’s best friend to show them that they care about them and appreciate them.
You can be supportive without getting too personal
If a team member is going through something difficult, managers can empathise and offer support without getting too involved. You’re not the expert, it is better to signpost to the right organisation.
You don’t have to be their best friend to want the best for them
Part of a manager’s role is being a mentor that helps team members to identify their strengths and helps them grow. You don’t have to be their best friend to help them succeed.
Being honest creates a healthy balance
Employees won’t grow unless they get honest advice, guidance, and feedback. Managers should care about employees but also be able to do them justice by leading them professionally and effectively.
There are plenty of ways for managers to gain the trust and respect of their team without having to form close personal relationships with team members, it’s just about understanding this, then pivoting until they get the balance right.
Are you an HR manager who’s constantly dealing with issues around managers and their teams?
- Do you know that there are deep-rooted issues in teams but you just don’t have the time to get to the bottom of them and sort them out?
- Are disciplinary and performance issues landing on your desk when they shouldn’t be; if only managers had the experience, skills, and confidence to lead their teams effectively and get things back on track!
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