You can make friends with your co-worker

Boss 2.0: Can superiors and employees be friends?

If you are friends with your boss as an employee, you can benefit from one or the other advantage. Friendship can make everyday life easier and help your career take off. However, there are often limits and problems with such a friendship. After all, your manager is the person who pays your paychecks and has to criticize you from time to time. Alison Green reveals on what problems can arise here.

The unpleasant problems of a boss-employee friendship

Friendships between employees and superiors can occur from time to time. For example, it can happen that your colleague, with whom you have overcome numerous crises, is promoted and becomes your boss. Or maybe you get on very well with your manager from the start. If you are friends with your boss, there is a good chance you and your boyfriend will face one problem or another.

Negative feedback, criticism & warnings

A boss must be able to honestly criticize his employees. If you have a friendly relationship with your boss, negative feedback can be uncomfortable - for both parties. As a boss, it is necessary to be able to address negative aspects and express honest criticism. But who would like to tell their best friend that the project they presented did not succeed or that their recent achievements have not been sufficient? Many people find it harder to criticize when it comes to a friend or relative. It's just as tough when tough decisions have to be made. Sometimes bosses even deliberately hold back with criticism or such decisions when it comes to a friend.

However, this will not help you as an employee. Only if you are made constructive and honest about your mistakes and confronted with your weaknesses can you improve your performance, develop yourself further and expand your skills. On the other hand, it can be more difficult for you when you hear criticism from a boss who is also your friend. After all, friends should stand behind you. So it can happen that you take the criticism more insultingly than if it came from a boss with whom you are not friends.

Envy and jealousy in the team

If you are friends with your boss, your colleagues will find out sooner or later. This can lead to envy or jealousy in the team. Many of your co-workers may be suspicious of the friendship between you and your manager. This can make even a promotion uncomfortable.

Because even if you've done an excellent job lately and have been immensely involved in the work, your colleagues could become skeptical if you received a raise. But your colleagues could also react jealously in other situations and blame you behind your back.

The termination of the job

A termination is in very few cases easy. However, if you are friends with your manager, it will be even more difficult. Depending on how your boss reacts, your friendship can suffer. On the other hand, it is just as possible that the termination and the associated professional separation will be good for your friendship.

End the friendship with the supervisor

Sometimes it happens that a friend disappears from your life. Although you got along well, it can happen that one of you ends the friendship and goes your separate ways. If you want to end the friendship between you and your boss, this is extremely difficult. After all, your boss is responsible for your paycheck. So it can be that after you have drawn a line, in the worst case scenario you even have to look for a new job.

Can I be friends with my boss?

Despite all the problems, supervisors and employees can be friends. Whether or how well this works depends on several aspects:

  • The atmosphere in the office: First of all, you should check the atmosphere at work. If everyone is relaxed about one another, it is usually easier to have a boss-employee friendship. Nevertheless, as an employee, you should treat your boss with respect. It is important to consider how your colleagues might react to the fact that you have a friendly relationship with your manager.
  • The separation from private and professional: It is important to separate the private and the professional. For example, if you have a friendly dinner with your boss on Sunday evening, this still means that you may have to address the same person as Mr. or Mrs. the next day. It is often easy to tell the difference between work and private friendship. It can be difficult, especially on stressful days. For example, if you had a private argument, this can have an impact on your professional life.
  • The length of your friendship: Whether the friendship between you and your boss works also depends on how well and how long you have known each other. If you are only casual acquaintances, this does not mean that a friendship arises from it. Even if you are related, it does not automatically mean that you know each other well. If, on the other hand, you have experienced a lot together and know each other's numerous secrets, it can be uncomfortable when one of you is the new boss. Basically, your friendship can survive this. If you have known each other for a long time, the chances that the friendship will still work are very good.

The difference between kindness and friendship

The relationship between a manager and an employee can be complicated. Understand that there is a difference between kindness and friendship. In order to work well together, it is important to be friendly to one another. Friendship is not necessary. Many employees do not even want to be friends with their supervisor. Although such a friendship can put you in some advantageous situations, it can still happen that you do not like the boss or do not want to be friends with him. Therefore, managers should set appropriate limits. This makes them appear more impartial and can help employees. After all, it can be uncomfortable to tell the boss that you don't want to be friends with him or that you don't like him. However, some bosses don't seem to know the difference between friendliness and friendship. If it gets too personal for you, you should try, for example, simply to change the subject.

Have you had experiences with a boss-employee friendship? Or could you imagine being friends with your boss yourself? How would you handle the issue if you were promoted? We look forward to your comment!

Mirijam Franke has turned her passion into a job and has been working successfully as a freelance copywriter for many years. As part of her degree in media management, she came into contact with the topic of online marketing for the first time and has since made a name for herself throughout Germany with a lot of personal experience, the courage to be clear and a wink in the areas of marketing, work, startups, HR and work-life balance do. She has been an editor at since May 2016.