You have a lot on your plate as a small business owner. You’re constantly thinking about customer service, financials, products, employees and bettering your store.
When it comes to your employees, you’re probably thinking of who’s on the schedule, who’s excelling and who could use improvement. But another thing you should consider is your relationship with employees.
Because it’s a small business, the line between business and friendship can easily be blurred with employees. You get to know your staff members personally, and the relationship can evolve into something more comfortable and less formal. There is nothing wrong with this, however, it’s possible an employee – and even you – may unknowingly take advantage of the friendship you’ve built.
You hired your staff to help your business prosper, so it’s essential to draw a line before getting too close with employees. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a very tricky situation.
Here are five tips to help you inspire a positive and professional relationship with employees:
1. Don’t overshare personal details.
When you’re with an employee for a good chunk time of each week, it’s easy to become friendly, sharing tidbits about your personal lives. It’s okay to talk to employees about how you’re excited for an upcoming concert or that you’re brainstorming ideas for your kid’s next birthday. However, don’t overshare on the more intimate details, such as issues with family or friends.
When you keep private details private, you’ll encourage employees to not bring their personal issues into work either. Everyone remains focused on the task at hand.
2. Set the bar for what is acceptable.
As the owner of your store, you set the bar for what is acceptable behavior. Employees will learn from you what they can or can’t do while on the clock. Whether it’s arriving on time or responding kindly to a disappointed customer – abide by the same policies and show the same courtesies that you’d expect from employees. You’ll gain your employees’ respect by holding yourself to the same standards to which you hold employees.
3. Don’t discuss business financials with employees.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t discuss business financials with employees. Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule depending on how you’ve setup your business. You may discuss target sales numbers or how sales are doing together as a company. Or, if you have a dedicated sales team member, you may discuss the numbers in more detail. However, if your employees have nothing to do with sales and financials, don’t discuss with them.
This can become a tricky situation because employees may think they are “in-the-know” or more knowledgeable than other employees. On another note, you don’t want an employee sharing private details about your business to others. Only share relevant business information with employees, and you’ll ensure private matters are kept private.
4. Implement policies to hold employees accountable.
It’s essential to hold employees accountable for their actions and behaviors. This shows that you take your business seriously and that you expect employees to as well. Whether it’s a consequence for continuously being late or a protocol for calling-in sick, implementing policies creates a workflow that requires everyone to act responsibly. When you adhere to those policies, it makes treating everyone equally an easy task.
5. Be mindful of your attitude.
Because you set the bar for what’s acceptable, you must be mindful of your attitude while working. If you have a negative attitude, complain a lot, push blame onto others, etc., employees may begin mirror these behaviors. It’s very difficult to get people to change their behavior when you are the one that initiated it. It’s also much easier to gain respect from employees when your attitude is a positive, uplifting one.
6. Check-in with employees.
One of your obligations as a manager is to ensure employees have a healthy work environment. This spans from the employee finding coworkers helpful and the workload manageable, to liking the job. Taking time to chat with an employee privately about how she’s doing in the position or any ideas or concerns she has will make her feel valued and heard. It’s much easier for an employee to respect a manager who seems to actually care about them in the workplace.
You didn’t hire your employees to be your friends. You hired them to make running your business easier on yourself. And to help the business grow, quite frankly. Create a work environment that is professional and act in a way that garners respect, and you’ll be less likely to blur the line between business and friendship.