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The Houserules of the boss friend

Policies and procedures are imperative in business when the boss is the friend.   If you’re asking my opinion, when it comes to friends in business, they are equivalent to oil and water.  The two don’t mix!

Blurring the lines with a meaningful friendship will make it almost impossible to enforce the rules and accept corrections or critical feedback.  Becoming familiar before being transparent with the business’ ground rules is a no-no.  HouseRules are an easy and efficient way of clarifying the expectations within the organisation.

When recruiting, a business owner will see two paths to choose from.  The path of distance is to be the big scary boss who demands the respect of their subordinates.  Alternatively, the other option is to be family-friendly and welcome the newbie to the fold.  These are well-trodden paths with pros and cons; however, the ultimate goal is to foster loyalty and productivity.

Forgetting policies and procedures and ruling with an iron fist.

Those who enjoy hearing their names mentioned as though they were a god, bad news… You are only as effective as long as your presence is present.  Once you have left the space, your team will be so relieved to catch their breath that little to no progress is made.  You become frustrated believing that your team are not productive, whilst they build their tolerance of you.

Over time, you inadvertently created a terrible situation for yourself where you are constantly spoon-feeding your workforce with step-by-step instructions because you continue with the notion that you have no other choice if things are to be done correctly.

Instead of cultivating an environment for innovation, exercising your authority in a frivolous manner costs you dearly.  Having your team unable to take action without your authorisation breeds contempt and distrust and gives your most valued team member the push to venture elsewhere.  Oblivious to the undertones, maintaining a tight reign over the team is the only way to ensure getting it right the first time.

You are now chained to the business more than your staff, and you become resentful when they don’t show up, but you have to.  No holidays with friends or family where you are present.  No time for of ill health and blinded to the fact that the contributing factor is that you are unable to step away.

But have you given thought to when the choice is no longer available to you?  Who will be able to take over and hold down the fort until your return?  You have made your position irreplaceable.  The business that was to give you freedom is now your prison.

This will be when you will reassess your actions and realise that your authoritarian ways have alienated everyone in the business.  Even with “keeping a tight ship”, you are at a complete loss as to how you managed to lose control.  The professional distance that you have maintained has now become the barrier to gaining motivation and collaborating with the team.  You could do it with a friend.

A man dressed in a business suit, mobile phone in hand as he is seated as at table looking out a large window with a curiously knowing look on his face. Contemplating how breaking rules cost. You don't have to waste time book a Dust Off policy review and let's work through it.

No need for policies and procedures with a boss friend.

So if being the big boss is not the way to go, undoubtedly, the right path would be the alternative. There is an unwritten code amongst friends, but there lies the problem. We all know what assumptions mean for you (it’s the first three letters of assumptions)! Relying on the good nature of others is risky when in business.

A friend is more likely to make decisions with misguided confidence, believing they know what you would want; emotional decision making rather than from a fully informed stance. They do not fear consequences because they know you will understand that whatever they do has the best intentions.

Forming a friendship within a business setting is rarely on an equal footing.   As a team member, being friends with the manager should come with perks and a fast-track pass to joining them in elite management circles. And before you protest, it may not be the expectations of the relationship but it is bigger than two people.  It is a workplace affair!  Whether true or not others will deem it as fact. Tension and mistrust within the team are the seedlings of trouble.

Your orders are questioned by your friend and others alike.  It’s not to say that emotions have no place in business but a friendship without feelings is business.  Sometimes that is not what your friend wants to hear.  So you have to get the accounts done, travel for a couple of days and meet with potential clients.  Your friend sees it as you living the jet-set lifestyle.  The hotels, dining out and getting away from the workplace.  Can they not join in or maybe they can play boss for the time that you are away?

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The power of HouseRules including boss friend.

What if you opted to avoid the beaten tracks?  Good relations don’t automatically mean friendship.  Likewise, implementing and enforcing orders, practices and procedures in your business doesn’t make you into the prat at the top of the organisational chart.

Policies and procedures set out the whys and hows of what is paramount to the business’s success.  Once in place then, you can work on building relationships with the individuals you onboard into the organisation.  It is the makings of an internal community.  In the beginning, it will be your role to monitor and enforce the HouseRules of your business.  However, over time others will adopt them, allowing you the freedom to step away, evolve or expand as you see fit.

We already know where assumptions can get you.  Therefore don’t make the mistake of believing all rules are restrictive.  That is not the sole purpose of HouseRules.  You are striking a balance with guidelines for all.  The essence of your mission is to capture it in your policies and procedures.  Your starting point is to ensure you are legally compliant where necessary.  Beyond that, you have free rein, and the possibilities are endless.

The current trend is to record instructions so that a new person coming into the business can hit the ground running.  Definitely signs of taking the left path.  Remember that it’s not all about dumping the duties on the new recruit.  Showing up on time, not misusing the IT equipment, or being unpleasant to customers may be expectations but are not recorded in the videos or playbook.

Imagine renting your holiday home.  Of course, you will give them the address, confirm the dates, and take payment, but you will want to ensure they know the HouseRules.  Why would you not have a staff handbook if you could create a tenancy agreement?  And if you know that it’s imperative for an 8AM start, be transparent, have it written down, draw their attention to it, and monitor the situation.   

It is not about “buttering up” individuals!  Instead, find what works for you, the business and the internal community.  Be firm but fair, and your team will appreciate you for it.  You may not get the award for BFF, but you will be leading with confidence, and all will recognise it.

As always, I know your time is precious, especially if you are trying to determine my value and whether working with me will be worth your time. So look out for the following Ethical Insight, but if you cannot wait any longer, go ahead and book a Sip & Chat.

CAS Ltd, The Ethical Strategist, Cas Johnson - implementing a good policy practice will facilitate you enjoying the life you desire

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