HR180’s HR Assistant, Simon Underwood, has had a wealth of experience working with and managing others. Here he shares some experiences and points out why it might not be such a good idea for bosses and employees to be over friendly!
By Simon Underwood
Many years ago one of my workplaces recruited a new manager. Some of us had worked with him before and knew that he was a tough, no nonsense, by the book manager. In his first week in the job he passed a particularly popular and chirpy member of staff who said to him, “Morning mate”. He was stopped immediately in his tracks by a deadpan stern faced reply, “I’m not your mate, I’m your boss! You can call me Fred (not his real name, mainly because I’m scared he might read this!!) or Mr Jones (see previous note!)”.
As we worked in a customer service environment where, in the main, employees and managers were outgoing, friendly and highly sociable, this came as a bit of a shock. The member of staff made his way to the staff room and ranted and raved about how abrupt and rude this was. However, in that one, small conversation the manager had successfully laid down a marker to show what he expected from his team.
He was not there to be liked he was there to get the job done, and respect and professional distance was maintained from that point onward.
From an HR perspective it is important that your managers maintain a professional distance and try where possible to avoid cronyism and nepotism.
Here are some of the main factors to consider.
There is a counter argument to consider and that is the culture of the business that you work for.
The culture of each business needs to be taken into consideration and it is to be remembered that at work social events you are still on company time and subject to company policies and procedures. Thus, it is important to bear in mind that outside of work with work colleagues you still need to maintain the correct level of professionalism.
Here at HR180, a family culture is encouraged where social and charitable functions are a regular occurrence. Our culture is to encourage open and frank discussion and decisions are made as a team. (However the buck still stops with Claire!)
I am not sure what happened to my old boss, but years later as a supervisor myself whenever a new member of staff would refer to me as “mate” I would reply with a wry smile and a nod to Fred “I’m not your mate, I’m your boss!”
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