Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked small-business owners whether they think bosses can be friends with their employees. This is what they said.
▪ “You can be, but you need to be very careful,” said Rob Sneed, owner of MarkaBull, a Durham print and promotional supply company. “Three things to be careful of: The perception of favoritism, lines of friendship and business can be blurred, and that the difference of boss and employee will always be felt. I think the relationship needs to be separate, good to have an occasional beer with the boss, but I don’t think it’s healthy to hang around after hours.”
▪ “In my professional opinion, there is a very delicate balance which should be maintained between bosses and employees,” said Contonna J. Peterson, CFO and COO of Bartending Unlimited, a professional mobile bartending service company based in Durham. “Being friendly is acceptable; however, befriending an employee can invite unexpected circumstances which could be detrimental in and to the work environment. My recommendation is to exercise extreme caution when co-mingling business and friendship.”
▪ “I think that bosses can be friendly with their employees and enjoy socializing in a business environment. But a boss needs to be careful about getting too friendly outside of work,” said Robin Foster, owner of Mr. Handyman of Western Wake County, which provides professional handyman services, and Dazzle & Lace in Raleigh, which sells party supplies, gifts and packaging. “It makes it more difficult to maintain a leadership role while at work. It’s hard to turn off and on the boss role once a more casual friendship develops.”