Successful Boundary Management

To be friends at work requires total transparency—you must be totally honest on both sides of the boundary. It cannot work to be the senior or the junior person if you cannot trust that what you are seeing is what you are getting. I explicitly name the role that I’m coming from—which hat I’m wearing—boss or friend. My friend can ask me which hat I’m wearing in any interaction. She can ask me to change hats. We are always clear about how the role hats are going to work. I am clear with her that when I have my boss hat on, I am speaking from my supervisor role, where I am responsible for the quality of her work—and I may not be happy with it. There may also be things going on in the company that I cannot discuss because of my role, and I will tell her that. We can also be good friends outside of work, as long as we stay clear about our hats. I have joked that I am friends with bosses and bosses of friends. A friendship may not survive if I have to discipline or fire her—but I’ve had good luck with that, so it’s not always a problem. “Total transparency”—this, along with the role hats tool, is the key to enable you to “switch the light on and off” to manage role boundaries and relationships at work.   An excerpt from my book, New Rules for Women, available at Amazon (]]>

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