Have you ever wondered what your relationship with your boss should look like, or what the boundary in communication between an employee and the boss is? Is it worth working with friends or is it something you’d better avoid? In other words, is your job simply a job and you should distance yourself from it or can you allow yourself to have friendlier, more personal relationships with your colleagues?
Let’s be honest – even if the answer to the above questions is: “find a middle ground”, this isn’t a simple matter. How does one “find a middle ground”? What if my employees take advantage of me? What if my boss wants to know too much about me? It’s a tricky matter, but it is also important; my team, comprised of Millennials and Gen Z has shown me that they care about the quality of their relationship with me. Personally, I didn’t know how to tackle this subject, so I asked my mentor, Chris Cebollero, to dedicate our team meeting to this matter. I always look up to people more experienced than me and today I would like to share the conclusions I drew from that conversation.
- It’s about business
When working as a paramedic, Chris had many good relationships at work. As soon as he was promoted and became their boss, many left him. Why? Did he become big-headed? Well, no. As a team leader, he had to make decisions the people around him not always liked, but which were the best business-wise. Not everyone understood that because, hey… we are buddies, you can’t do that! Well, the wisdom Chris left me with, was this: Regardless of our position, when we’re at work, we have to remember that we’re at work and achieving goals is the most important thing here; our decisions have to support the business, the development of the organization, and not hinder it for the sake of our private interests. In other words, we shouldn’t take the boss’s decisions personally because they are not about our personal interest.
And you, boss, remember – your decisions have to serve the company you’re working for. And this doesn’t mean that, with this approach, we don’t care about the people or a good atmosphere. Quite the contrary. GA good atmosphere allows us to effectively achieve the business goals we were hired to achieve and we get paid for. Although this may seem obvious, it really helped me understand that we can allow ourselves to have personal relationships (because they are present in our team) ONLY when everyone acknowledges and remembers that our PRIMARY goal is to make sure OUR company, EFFECTIVENESS, thrives, and we thrive with it. Thanks to this, I also found an explanation why hiring friends usually backfired on me (because the starting point was a private relationship, not business, so it was difficult for us to change our attitudes). What else is worth remembering regarding team relationships?
Without trust, you cannot hope for good relationship with anyone, anywhere. If trust is the foundation of the team (and for that we need to get to know each other well), we will understand that the boss makes certain decisions not because they don’t like us or because they’re big-headed or mean (although I know that it’s not always easy to believe if we don’t know our behavioral profile). The boss has to take care of business, which naturally including you and your workplace. Trust them! From the manager’s point of view, it’s not always easy to make decisions either! Feeling comfortable in uncomfortable situations is something a team leader must acknowledge and learn. It’s not always going to be perfect, but you have to survive. So, how do you do it?
3. Team strength
Now that we know how important it is to establish trust, we can be clear about one thing… There will be moments when, as employees, we won’t feel good about something, but we will have to adapt and understand that it’s happening for a greater good. We can argue, disagree, but in the end we need to play for the same team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we have to work like emotionless robots. Being aware that some decisions are not PERSONAL (=against me), but PURELY BUSINESS-DRIVEN (=with the aim to develop the organization I work for) is a sign of the team’s maturity and allows us to successfully tackle the numerous challenges we encounter along the way. That’s the power of a team!
You know, when I thought this through I understood how much sense Chris’s approach made; I understood why I’ve criticized my bosses so often, without understanding their decisions. I also felt a huge relief because I do want to have close, personal relationship with my team, and I know that it’s OK, but we should all remember that we are here for our company to thrive and for us to thrive along with it. Does this make sense to you, too?