By avoiding these four common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way towards becoming an excellent manager. Mistake #1: Becoming Buddies with Employees
It’s a hard thing to do, but new managers — especially if they’ve been promoted up from within their work units — must form new types of relationships with their co-workers. Because of new positions, former peers are now subordinates. It just doesn’t work for them to be buddies with their employees.
Naturally, you feel closer to some employees than you do to others, based perhaps on similar backgrounds or interests. But by socializing with an employee you invite charges of favoritism, and nothing wrecks teamwork more than a feeling, among employees, that the boss has a “pet.”
Even if you were totally unbiased in terms of how you treated your “buddy” — with whom you often have lunch — you would still be seen as playing favorites. Also, having a buddy makes your own job harder: how could you reprimand the person you had dinner with last night? Wouldn’t you be tempted to be more lenient in enforcing rules with the employee who is your tennis/jogging/movie-going partner? When assigning work duties, and your “buddy” asks for a preferred task, would it be possible to deny him?
If you try to be buddies with all of your employees, then you’ll hesitate to give them the nasty, least desirable tasks. There have been cases where the manager ended up doing all of the crud work himself. Obviously, it’s not a great idea. As a new manager, you must cultivate relationships marked by a certain degree of formality; i.e., always remembering that you are there in your role as manager, and your employees are just that — your employees.
The trick is to be friendly, but not friends. It’s a difficult balance to strike. Yet the failure to establish this kind of relationship is a major reason managers fail.
Besides his clinical work and university teaching, Dr. Martin Seidenfeld provides consulting to organizations on management issues and on managing organizational stress. www.docmartyseminars.com