8 Reasons Not to Be Your Boss’s Friend

Friendly boss
Photo by Realstock / Shutterstock.com

Everyone has heard stories about horrible bosses who make life at work miserable. But having a boss as a best friend can be just as damaging to your career.

You may go into the friendship with your supervisor thinking that it will give you a competitive advantage. With the boss as a pal, you may believe you’ll have someone watching your back in the workplace. That may be the case for some friendships, but there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong.

Here are eight reasons not to be the boss’s best friend:

1. The friendship may end badly

If the friendship ends badly, your workplace could become an unpleasant place. Having a boss who dislikes you can make life difficult and, people being people, perhaps even influence your performance reviews.

2. You’ll lose personal privacy

Keeping your personal life private allows you to relax at the end of the workday and enjoy the company of friends and family members — without workplace stress. If your best friend is your boss, that will change.

As your pal, the boss will know a great deal about your personal life. He or she could possibly share at least part of that information with others at work.

3. You’ll feel pressure to maintain the friendship

Friendships ebb and flow as people develop new interests. However, if the boss is your best friend, you’ll probably be reluctant to let that happen. Your career may even hinge on your ability to keep the friendship alive.

4. Your co-workers will be envious

People who are friends with their supervisors often are resented by co-workers. Right or wrong, your co-workers may believe that colleagues who are cozy with management gain an advantage. This can strain other work relationships.

As an alternative to cultivating the boss, use networking to build alliances at work, broaden your personal network and make industry contacts outside the workplace.

5. You may lose out because of the friendship

If you form a close friendship with your supervisor, people will watch to make sure the boss isn’t playing favorites. In fact, to avoid criticism, the boss may give you less desirable assignments or extra work to show there’s no favoritism.

In fact, it might be harder for you to get ahead if your boss is afraid of being criticized.

One study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that managers are reluctant to publicly give bonuses to employees who are their friends. The study authors note:

“In private, however, participants were willing to give the bonus to the deserving person whether she was a friend or a non-friend, suggesting that their public behavior was aimed at avoiding the appearance of bias.”

6. You’ll live in your boss’s shadow

When you are buddies with the boss, people at work typically assume that any advancements you’ve made are due to your personal connection. There’s a danger your accomplishments will be dismissed by others, harming your reputation.

7. If your boss leaves, your career could suffer

Just as your career can benefit from an association with a successful supervisor, it can suffer if that boss is demoted or leaves the company. Any perks you enjoyed from the friendship could disappear.

8. You’ll miss out on valuable feedback

Good supervisors don’t just praise. They also act as teachers and mentors. They point out mistakes and suggest ways to improve.

“You may not take your supervisor’s feedback seriously or you may take it too personally, which can easily create a toxic work environment for everyone involved,” Chris Chancey, CEO of Amplio Recruiting, tells Money Talks News.

Have you been close friends with a supervisor? How did it work out? Share your experiences and thoughts in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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