Having a close-knit company culture not only makes your company more successful, but also makes work a lot more fun. When you spend so many hours each week with the same people, it is natural and beneficial to create good relationships with them. These types of cultures are common in small businesses, where everyone knows everyone. Friendships at work are important to employee engagement. In fact, research from Gallup suggests there is a link between employee engagement and having a best friend at work. But some leaders struggle to find healthy boundaries between leadership and friendship in the organization, particularly in high stress or emotional situations.
A recent article from the Harvard Business Review suggests that leaders need to be selectively vulnerable, which means they need to prioritize healthy boundaries with transparency and openness. Here are four tips for finding that balance with your employees:
Be in tune with your own emotions.
Leaders need to understand their own emotions, so they can regulate them. Wearing your emotions on your sleeve as a leader can damage relationships and cause employees more stress. Become self-aware in high-stress emotional situations and understand why you are feeling the way you do, before you share that with anyone else.
Don’t try to hide your emotions.
People are inherently bad and hiding how they really feel. If you are having a bad day, for whatever reason, share what with your employees without dumping all your feelings on them. For example, you could say, “I’m having a rough day, but I am trying not to let impact the team. Please know it is not anything to do with you,” Having these types of conversations can help employees feel comfortable coming to you when they are feeling overwhelmed in the future.
Share your plan for improvement.
In high-stress or emotional situations, having a plan of attack can make everyone feel more in control of the situation. If you are having a difficult time, share with your employees how you plan to get through it. You may even find that other employees are feeling them same. Balance positivity with reality and create plan to move forward.
Treat others how you would like to be treated.
This idea applies to so many situations in leadership. Think about how you would feel if your leader overshared their emotions with you. When in doubt, err on the side of sharing less, rather than more.
Share this information with the leaders in your organization. Encouraging healthy relationships benefits both the leaders and your employees.