Should You Befriend Your Employees?

Should you befriend your employees? The quick answer is no, but hear me out. Those of you who know me, also know that I believe managers need to care about their staff. In fact I devoted an entire chapter in my new book to this topic. But caring for your staff is different than trying to become friends with your staff. Friendships are typically two-way relationships that have a certain amount of give and take. They also involve choice and in a good friendship, both parties usually care about each other to a certain extent. If they don’t the friendship will eventually fracture. While you need to care about your employees, you should not expect that your employees are going to care about you. If you do, you are setting yourself up for a dysfunctional working relationship. Most employees will care about a good boss but this doesn’t automatically make them friends with you. While there are exceptions to this rule, here are some reasons why trying to befriend your employees is a bad idea. 1. You have authority. Because of your position alone, it makes it difficult to carry on a traditional friendship. As a boss you carry a certain amount of influence in an employee’s life. Fire them and you turn their world upside down. Write them a bad performance review and they miss a bonus. Reprimand them and they may be stressing out about their job security. Your relationship is what I call “weighted,” and because of this it is very difficult to retain a natural friendship. 2. You have a job to do. One of...

Speech Writing Tip – Dangers of Emotion

A few weeks ago week I was coaching someone for a speech they had to give. We were walking through his outline and making necessary adjustments to make the presentation tighter and flow more smoothly. He decided to end his speech with a very emotional story. While this can be a good idea, it can also backfire if you are not careful. Emotion has the energy of a tidal wave; if you are going to summon it you had better make sure you are directing it. If not, it will channel its own course and it may not be the one you intended. The story my friend wanted to tell was about a doctor named Janusz Korczak who decided to take over an orphanage in the ghettos of Warsaw during WWII. As the story goes, the time came when the children of the orphanage were marched to the train station to be taken to the gas chamber. The enemy soldiers recognized Korczak and gave him a chance to escape with his own life, but he refused. He apparently said, “These are children and one does not abandon children during a time like this.” Janus Korczak and the children boarded the train and were never seen again. (I’m giving you the reader’s digest version). The story is very powerful. It evokes a lot of emotion, at least it did in me. As I read through his script I felt a hot flash of anger regarding the evil men who did this. It even caused me to put down my friend’s script and get on my computer to look up some...

Don’t Call 911

On Sunday, my son lay face down on the cold ice of the hockey rink waiting for the ambulance to arrive. He had been checked from behind into the boards and immediately crumpled to the ice as pain exploded from his upper spine. The entire arena watched and waited with us for 25 agonizing minutes for paramedics to arrive. Scenes like this are every hockey parent’s nightmare, and today it was my kid. The good news is that after a short ride to the hospital, a CT scan and some x-rays, no fractures on his spine were to be found and he ended up walking out of the hospital under his own power with a neck brace and some pain killers. I teased him that the neck brace will go over well with the teenage girls in his school. (He gave me permission to post these photos.) The event was stressful enough but there was something that happened while he lay in pain on the ice that caught me off guard.  When the Dr. on the scene (one of the parents of another team) first told someone to call 911, my son, fighting back tears, asked us not to. His reasoning? He figured that would kill his chances of playing in the next day’s game.  Even though he was in too much pain to be even rolled over, he still wanted to play. Then, while we waited, he asked to speak to his coach who was standing on the ice nearby. The coach bent down and placed his ear near his helmet to hear my son and after a...