Should You Be Friends With Your Employees?

Leading a team strikes a difficult balance between being cordial and commanding. Are you strictly a boss or can you have a more friendly relationship with your employees? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you the pros and cons.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

how to lead your friends if you work with them

In Review – Should You Be Friends with Your Employees?

Can you be friends with your employees, and still be a successful leader? It’s an interesting question, and there are several reasons the answer to this dilemma is important, according to Jennifer. Being friends with your employees can do the following and more:

  • Fuel or derail a project
  • Excel or ruin your reputation capital
  • Expand or cloud your decision making
  • Save or waste time, money or energy
  • Create a collaborative or hostile environment

In other words, it can be the difference between disaster and success.

PM Software for Friendly Managers

What Is a Boss?

Jennifer defined the word boss. As a noun, a boss is simply a person in charge of an employee. As a verb, though, to boss means to give orders. She went on to describe a few scenarios how the friend-boss matrix can stir up issues.

For example, you get promoted among your peers, and suddenly you’re managing people who used to be your friends and equals. Or maybe, you or a coworker hires someone you know outside of your current company. That can be someone you worked with or not worked with in the past, but know as a friend.

Related: 9 Essential Tips for New Managers

What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Boss and a Friend?

If you’ve already had a relationship with someone on the team you lead, there can be pros to this situation:

  • You know them and trust them (hopefully).
  • Their actions and perspective are going to have a familiarity.
  • You know their style, so to speak, and if it’s competent you can reinforce it.

These pros can help you gain some leverage when you need it. But that’s not in a manipulative sense, it means you can be more open with them because they’ve already been vetted by your shared experience.

Some of the cons are, again, that you know them. They might seek to manipulate you, consciously or subconsciously, because of this intimate knowledge. Other employees wouldn’t attempt such tactics because they don’t know you outside of your current role.

This familiar relationship can also lead to favoritism, which is corruptive to the cohesive whole and integrity of the team. You might be inclined to accept excuses from them that would never fly with other employees. At worst, it can lead to a lack of accountability. That is poison to your leadership.

Best Practices When Leading a Team as a Friend

  1. List the Pros and Cons: Take a moment to put the situation in context, and then list out the pros and cons to see if you’re acting dispassionately.
  2. Know Your Blind Spots and Their Styles: Once you’ve made that list, you can maneuver through the day easier because you’ll be cognizant of where the friendship might snag you into acting inappropriately. Also, you’ll have identified their style and how to work with it.
  3. Establish Boundaries and Set Clear Expectations: It’s always best to create boundaries and clear expectations, especially if you’re working with friends, so toes aren’t stepped on.
  4. Agree on Protocol: This provides a structure to address issues as they arise in a way that respects them, the project and you.
  5. Set Them Up for Success: The bottom line is that the project is the guiding light, and success is measured by how everyone works together toward achieving that goal.

Pro-Tip: To look at this topic with an objective lens, use data to help guide your leadership. A project management software like can give you real-time data to look at your team members’ progress with clarity, and in the context of the project at large.

Thanks for watching!


Today we’re talking about, “Should You Be Friends With Your Team as a Boss?” So, in today’s whiteboard session, we’re gonna talk about why we care. We’re also gonna talk about a few pros and cons. And we’re gonna talk about some best practices and an important success key.

So, why do we care? Well, this could either fuel or derail a project, it could their excel or ruin your reputation capital as a leader of a project or organization, it could also expand or cloud your decision-making as a manager or boss, and it could save or waste your time, money, and energy. And then last, it could also create a collaborative or a hostile environment depending upon how this works out.

So, let’s look at the dynamic of a boss. So, a boss is a person who is in charge of a worker. And in the verb form, they give someone orders. Here are a few scenarios.

Well, early in our career or different time periods in our career, the event usually occurs where someone among the peer group gets promoted.

Also, there’s the scenario where you may have peers that you know of that you wanna bring into your team that you may or may not have worked with. So, when this happens, let’s look at a few pros and cons.

So, let’s assume these peers you’ve become friends with over time. Well, the pros are you begin to know them, you begin to trust them because there’s that working relationship, you understand better how to leverage them for their strengths, you learn their styles of working and their thinking so you can figure out how they can best complement your strengths or your gaps and reinforce them or support you.

There also begins to form this level of openness so you can begin sharing input and feedback. And they’ve also been vetted out, you know how they’re going to work out.

And then the cons are because you do know them, sometimes there could be the scenario where they may try to manipulate you, they may wanna take advantage of you or expect that you’re going to play favorites with them. They may even at times if they don’t complete their work, give you excuses as if it’s okay and some form of lack of accountability.

So, here are some best practices. Number one, list these pros and cons for the scenarios or different people you have become friends with on your team, know your specific blind spots of how you might get trapped up, and really know their styles. Again, so you can understand better how to leverage them.

Establish strong boundaries and set clear expectations for their roles. And then agree on protocol because you are friends, the protocol of how you’re going to handle input in different scenarios so that it is effective.

And then set them up for success because after all, they’re on your team. And then the biggest success key is if they are on your team and they are a friend, then work with them first because if you work with them first then you get all of the aspects of the pros that will make this successful.

So, if you need additional resources about how to handle friends on your team as a boss, then sign up for our software now at

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