High Management Performance is not a Friend’s Job

This is a picture of my dog Lanny. As you can see, he is sleeping; something he does a lot. A bit later I’ll get to how this connects to the topic of the day.
Much too often I hear about people in management positions who seem to confuse the role of a manager with the role of being a friend. This can be a sensitive area in the realm of management performance but it’s one we have to look at. In an effort to help right the management ship, I share a few thoughts every time I hear of this. First a couple of informal definitions. (Read – my own thoughts as I am writing this.)
Friend: A person one can turn to share personal feelings and help with personal matters. A person who (hopefully) can provide unbiased perspectives that will get one through challenging situations.
Manager: A person who is responsible for creating long-term team stability and maximum employee and team efficiency.
Can you see how these two definitions can make manager and friend mutually exclusive roles? Some managers can, some can’t, and others feel the difference is not important. Those in the first group do fine in this regard. Those in the second and third group are the ones I’m concerned about so here are a few words to help those who may be in the second or third group. (You know who you are.)
If you can’t see the difference between manager and friend – if you feel one can serve as both, here’s something to think about. You get asked the question, “Should I take a few days off to enjoy the beautiful spring weather?” A friend would likely say, ‘Sure, and let me join you.” A manager looking at a looming deadline on a work project will probably not give the same answer. They can’t, or shouldn’t, give the same answer because as an important deadline approaches, their priority is not likely to be on a team members work-life balance. This is something I was hinting at earlier in the definitions.
Now to those in the third group – those who don’t feel the difference is important. This may be harsh but I’d compare this to being a bit like my dog, Lanny; asleep during the workday. If you consider yourself a member of this third group, please think about the above example just a bit longer. We like being nice. We like to saying yes to what people want. Problem is, when you as a manager say yes to what a friend may say yes to, (leaving work early, putting off a difficult task, etc.) you are getting in your own way when it comes to creating long-term team stability and maximum employee and team efficiency. Hoping the difference is clear now and if you’re in a managerial roll, you’ll keep the two separate and approach your work accordingly.
Some time ago I was approached for comment on this topic for an article in Pizza Today magazine. I love pizza. How could I not happily contribute to the article? Give it a read if you’d like some additional thoughts on the topic.