Five Ways Leaders Demonstrate Friendship to Their Employees

Five Ways Leaders Demonstrate Friendship to Their Employees

In February we celebrate friendship so I will share five ways leaders demonstrate friendship to their employees. Although many leaders choose not to pursue friendship with their employees, I learned to do it successfully. I always enjoyed getting to know my employees at a personal level and even learned their pets’ names. They appreciated it when I came back from a vacation and brought them gifts. Occasionally, I handwrote them “thank you notes” just because. Some of them hang those notes on their cubicles as if they were trophies. The simple gesture of creating a friendship with my employees brought me great fulfillment over the years as a leader.

I encourage you to establish some kind of friendship with your employees. You don’t have to become best friends. No one would expect that kind of friendship. But employees appreciate it when you care about them enough to have a cordial, professional friendship. Below are five ways leaders demonstrate friendship to their employees.

Show them respect and set boundaries.

This is probably the most important gesture you can make towards your employees. When they feel respected, they will trust you. And trust is the foundation of any friendship. You show them respect when you allow them to participate in meetings, implement some of their ideas, and allow open conversations to happen in the team. At the same time, ensure you set boundaries for the friendship relationship. You do that by establishing clear expectations of their job and behavior in the workplace and by keeping them accountable when needed. That includes implementing consequences for their behavior.

Participate in company outings and events with your employees.

Often leaders choose not to participate in events because they are either too tired or have other “more important” commitments. They may think that the employees don’t want them there anyway. But your presence is critical at gatherings because that’s where you get to know your employees outside their work environment. They are more relaxed and will be more willing to share about their personal life.

Learn your employees’ family member’s names—even their pets!

Everybody loves to hear their name said—correctly. Ensure you know how to pronounce your employees’ names correctly. But also learn the names of their kids, spouse or significant other, and even their pets. Making the effort to remember names goes a long way and your employees will appreciate you more than you know. It simply shows you care.

Laugh with them.

There is nothing more fun than laughing with your team together. Sometimes you may laugh about something funny that happened at work or from a story shared. Other times, you may have to laugh at yourself. Yet other times, you may choose to laugh because the alternative is to cry about certain circumstances. No matter the reason, laugher is medicine and it brings people together.

Walk with them.

Walk with them literally and in their journey at work. Help them in their jobs, ask them how you can help them be more successful. Sometimes, you may have to “walk in their shoes” and do their jobs to help them catch up with the volume of work. Offer to go for a walk and take the opportunity to catch up with them. You will learn more during these walks than in a formal meeting at the office.

There are more than five ways leaders demonstrate friendship to their employees. And I hope these ideas inspire you to pursue a certain level of friendship with your employees.

Happy Friendship Month!