Setting Social Boundaries with Employees

In March 8, 2018

How personal is too personal?

Humans are social individuals and many of us enjoy interacting with other people – both on a business and personal level. We spend an average of about 40 percent of our time at work so the chances of your personal life diving into your business social life are high. But having personal conversations in a formal office environment is something you should be careful about. Many employees find casual conversations with their boss to be a bonus that enables them to build a stronger bond and increases productivity but some conversations can have an impact on the boss’ overall image. If you get too personal with some employees, their sense of boundaries may also change. Below are some pointers on how to handle business matters as a boss with staff members you have become friends with.

First Impressions are Important

Even more so important if you are a friendly boss, establishing a first impression will have a drastic impact on how your employees see you, whether you are hiring a new employee or starting out as a new leader within the company. Stay polite and professional to ensure your position as an authority figure is clearly defined.


Although you must first maintain your role as a boss and team leader, it is okay to listen to your employees’ personal stories. This is a good sign that your staff members trust you; however, do not let your workers complain in your office about life for hours on end.

Avoid Sharing Too Much

Do not let yourself get overly friendly with employees at work by sharing personal details about your life. It is okay to share a little to empathize and show you support them but there is a fine line that you must be careful to not cross lest you want your image of authority to be questioned by staff members.

Avoid Favoritism

Favoritism can occur when a boss or team leader gets closer to one employee than others and begins to naturally favor that person. Favoritism can skew your perception of an employee, potentially putting you at risk for underestimating a favored employee’s mis-performance and overestimating their results. This can cost you your authoritative standing as well as your company money if you are constantly giving work and credit to an undeserving employee.

Work to establish a sense of authority while remaining fair and friendly to your entire staff. You do not have to completely separate work and personal relationships but aim to maintain a sense of authority as best as you can.

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