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Buddy Boss: The Case for Befriending Your Manager

by Culture Team
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

As soon as we start navigating professional life, we realize that we are going to spend an inordinate amount of time with our colleagues. Our young, naive self might have initially thought that we needed to be friends with them. But we would soon gather that we are at work to work, not to make friends.

If we are lucky enough, we will be able to establish long-standing friendships at work. But more often than not, it is a difficult road to tread. Treating our peers as pals can be complicated given that there are intervening factors-politics, a mix of different personalities, and the culture. The same thing applies to having a boss as a friend.

We can consider ourselves more than lucky to have a nice manager. But before planning that bowling night or extending an invitation to a Star Wars convention, we should ask if this is all right.

Think About the Possibilities

Let's keep it real. There are many perks that will surely come with the prospect. If our boss is nice, why not make friends with them, especially if we are working in a democratic system? We gain access to information that is not normally cascaded to rank and file. Our leave requests will be prioritized. We may even be given a chance to handle important projects or lighten our load.

Yes, there are privileges. Nevertheless, we need to take into account that befriending our boss is a double-edged sword. Once everyone notices our special association with the boss, they will fix their eyes on us. If the boss saves our face from one mistake or promotes us to a higher post, people around may cook up some nasty speculations and accusations.

We are not asking for these things to happen. But politics and similar factors have immediate effects on office dynamics and relationships. Do not worry, though. If you really like your boss because they can relate to your DC-verse geekiness, there could still be a chance.

The Important Considerations

Some things will tell us if it is okay to invite our boss to the weekend trip. And we need to be aware of those.

One good example is when the friendship precedes that friend's promotion. There should be no question on that, especially if everyone knows about our relationship with that person before the shakeup in the organizational hierarchy.

We also need to consider the nature of our friendship with the boss. Are we doing it to protect ourselves from the office cliques that do not seem to like us? Is it because we want to secure a promotion? If we answer yes to these questions, we should realize that we are playing a dangerous game. Befriending someone because of power often ends up in wars. And that will endanger our professional reputation. So no to these things.

We should not forget the culture of the company. Some people can get away with the friendship, and that is because their organization is very accepting of this type of relationship between the leader and the subordinate. If this is the prevailing culture in your organization, it is safe to assume that it is all right to be friends with your manager.

If the boss has been serving as our mentor for years, we can probably count them as one of our friends. This is justifiable given that most of our professional and personal forays overlap each other, and people are even supportive of the rapport.

So is it okay to be friends with the boss? We say yes. But we need to make sure there is a distinction between the professional relationship and the friendship outside the office. We ought to minimize the issues regarding conflicts of interests by setting conditions and boundaries.