Sometimes, we consider our co-workers as family members (or sports team members, if you will). The fact is that we might even be spending more time with them during weekdays (and weekends) than with our own families. Can we also build friendships with our workmates, especially with our team leaders or even managers?
Leadership and friendship in the workplace seem to be a not-so-common discussion. It might be because it’s already a given condition, or it might be something being ignored or dismissed altogether. Research from Harvard Business Review shows that 90% of first-time managers have struggled to navigate the boundaries between being a boss and a friend, and more than 70% have lost friendships since becoming a manager.
We have invited Taizon Tapan and Frank Paul Ricaplaza, employees of eLink Systems & Concepts Corp., to discuss this issue further.
Friendly Boss or Boss Friends
Talking about the leaders at eLink, Frank Paul said, “I’m very comfortable with all the leaders. They’re so friendly and approachable!” Being a friendly boss, however, is different from being a friend and a boss at the same time. Would you befriend a friendly team lead or set a parameter between you and your boss?
On the other hand, Taizon stated, “I started with eLink as Publishing and Marketing Consultant without any knowledge, and at first, I was kind of lost and had nowhere to go. But when I became a part of a team, everything went smoothly.” He further added, “I found my sanctuary because these leaders are not only creating friendship but building a family as well.” The next question would be how to be fair with your subordinates if you consider them friends.
Does Having Friends at Work Increase Productivity?
“Friends at work,” said Taizon, “do bring so much help as we are comfortable sharing our strategies and techniques on how to sell.” The challenge, however, is how credible or reliable a friend’s advice would be and how much trust you can give to that same co-worker.
After working for four years in BPO, Taizon thought that if everyone is a friend of each other, it could bring a good and positive vibe, and this positivity will fuel the team to dial in and have great conversations with their authors. Indeed, leadership and friendship in the workplace can be a tool for success, but they could also create a toxic environment if not managed properly.
A Co-worker Friend or a Co-worker Competition
I have noted that competition is a common thing in Customer Service. I asked the two featured employees of eLink about what they think about their co-workers in the Sales Department. Frank Paul believes that competition is also normal for co-employees, even in sales. Nonetheless, he noted that he competes more with himself based on his previous performance to be better next time.
Meanwhile, Taizon doesn’t consider his co-workers as competition because they are always ready to help him whenever he needs them. “We only work hard,” he added, “to become a better version of ourselves as salespeople. We always share ideas and techniques on how we can reach our quota.” He also gave kudos to the management that builds a culture of building a family, not just a company.
A Team or a Friend, What Would You Choose?
“You will never be comfortable in a team or a company whose employees are not your friends,” uttered Taizon. I love to throw this question, though, considering the friendship with each other, how far can your team achieve? How far can comfortability with co-workers bring you? According to Pam Hamilton, a collaboration expert and author of Supercharged Teams: 30 Tools of Great Teamwork, “Some of the worst-performing teams I know are great friends, but they can’t get anything done.” Should Pam look at how eLink team members do things?
“A team,” according to Frank Paul, “can also be regarded as friends.” Moreover, he considers his team not just friends but family members as well. Constructive criticisms and challenging ideas, however, are critical in an environment of seemingly having a consensus decision.
Do You Consider Your Team Leader a Friend?
Still dealing with leadership and friendship in the workplace, Taizon considers his team leader as a friend, a big brother, a coach, and a leader who leads them to be better personally and professionally. Frank Paul added that supervisors and managers can be friends with employees as long as the relationship doesn’t interfere with professional matters.
When asked how he sees himself as a leader, Taizon responded, “I see myself as approachable, real, friendly, respectful, and honor boundaries.” “I am a collaborative person,” stated Frank Paul when asked the same question, “and I’m completely comfortable not being the expert in the office, but someone with strong values and always doing the right thing.”
When Friendship Starts and When It Ends
Taizon believes that friendship will always be there, whatever problems or barriers arise. He continued saying, “My friends will always be my friend as I am always to them and will always have a space in my heart. We will always be there for each other no matter the distance or position.”
Frank Paul, on the other hand, regards friendship as something that starts when both of you have something in common. “Great leaders,” according to him, “are often able to maintain strong friendships with those they lead.”
Promoted as Tier 2 Sales Representatives
“I am thankful to the people who have guided me to achieve such a position, especially to my Dev. Coach Kim Basit who gave us unlimited ideas and guidance,” expressed Taizon. “Everything that I have achieved,” he continued speaking, “is also through [Kim’s] willingness to guide and effort to balance his priorities.” He encouraged others to always obey their Dev. Coaches. He further noted that in this industry, it will be hard to win a sale if you are limited in product knowledge. Thus, he reinforced everyone to keep learning not only what is inside the box but as well as what’s outside of the box.
Frank Paul is also grateful because the company’s management recognizes his effort and performance and would like to thank them for letting him feel that he is worthy of being an employee. He advised others to do their best, not to give up, and be confident all the time to achieve their goals.
Taizon chose sales over customer service because of the unlimited commission he could get. He just needs to dial the phone and look for a prospect. In a different manner, Frank opted to be a sales representative because it’s a field that aligns well with his skills, interests, and disposition, and he enjoys doing things he does well.
To learn more about how leadership and friendship in the workplace work at eLink, feel free to send your CV to email@example.com. You can also follow our Facebook page for more information about current vacancies.