Mixing Work With Friendship… Anyone?

Certain office relationships can be detrimental to the company and your career? Find out how they can be…….

The past several years had brought many changes to our workplace. This includes technological advances, alternative work schedules, flatter organisations, kinder and gentler hierarchies. But each advance confuses the definition of an appropriate distance in workplace relationships.

Aristotle once said, “A society is something in nature that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, therefore does not partake of society is either a beast or a god”..

The act of socialising with co-workers may be difficult to avoid in today’s more casual and less hierarchical office. Social time between co-workers is a good idea because it builds camaraderie which can ultimately lead to greater productivity and success at work. So does a friendship between a boss and a subordinate. It will be healthy for the organisation only if the friendship is being kept to a certain limit, professionalism and within work related interests. While the need for companionship doesn’t end when one enters a workplace, some experts however believe that it should. They insisted that workers maintain boundaries in office relationship as when it goes bad, those who are involved will bring the problems to work with them. Another expert said that while there are few guidelines to help workers determine the appropriateness of an office friendship, but more often than not it is difficult to know when too much is too much until the whispers start, team work crumbles and productivity come to halt.

One must understand that a workplace friendship is typical to a personal friendship; when the friendship works, everything is just fine but when the honeymoon is over, things get very ugly. Another thing is that when you don’t know a person so well, you tend to focus on their strengths and you may even idolise them. But once you get closer to them, then you will see their weaknesses which will ultimately diminishes your opinion. This will change the dynamics of the relationship, the team and perhaps the entire organisation.

A boss who had a close personal relationship with a subordinate is inviting problems that can be detrimental to his leadership qualities. He will not only get a whats-on all look at the workplace but more important, he will ultimately lose all the respect from his other subordinates. They see him as unprofessional and bias and therefore not a good leader. When workplace relationship is build on secret agenda and unfounded biases, those beyond the inner circle feel isolated and abandoned. Cliques can lead to paranoia, disloyalty, distrust, ineffectiveness, low morale and low productivity.

When this happens, they will question the boss’s credibility in evaluating work performances, setting schedules and taking disciplinary actions and so forth. The subordinate on the other hand will face peers’ rejection and this will unnecessarily open the opportunities for conflicts. Even if that subordinate deserves a promotion, others see it as a personal gift from the boss rather than from his own achievement.

One way we can help ourselves and others to respect the limits of work-friend relationship is to keep our activities and interactions on work related. For example when you spend time with a work-friend after working time, include others in the office. Don’t single out your friend for praise or recognition at the expense of someone else who may also deserve it. Separate personal from professional dealings and if you are mature enough to understand where they begin and end, then they will enrich your life. If you are not sure where those boundaries are, then keep your distance!


Sumber Arkib: Buletin Usahawan Nasional Bilangan 1

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