How close is too close?

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I recently took a test to measure my strengths as a leader.  This test gives you top five strengths and how to use those to improve yourself overall. One of my strengths is as a ‘relater.’ It stated that I am strong at creating relationships with my employees and maintaining those relationships by getting to actually know my staff and relate to them.

At first I thought that was nonsense, but then I sat back and thought about it. I do take the time to get to know each of my employees.  If they want to sit in my office and chit-chat, I don’t discourage it. If they want to stop me in the hall to tell me about their personal life, I will sit down and listen to every word. I never thought about it as a skill, I was just doing what came naturally…..guess that’s why it’s considered a skill.

But how far do I take it? Should I talk about my personal life? Should I get involved in their lives? Should I allow them to be my friends on Facebook?

This is a tough place for a manager. On one hand you want to be a good boss and help them with whatever you can, even dealing with personal issues, but then you don’t want to become too involved and drag yourself into their issues. On one hand you want to let them know you as a person, but you don’t want the staff to become too involved in your life.

It’s a fine line to balance…being there for your staff while keeping them at arm’s length.

I care about my staff. I know when each of them is down or having problems and I try to support them the best I can. And I celebrate their accomplishments with them as well.  Sometimes they tell me more than I want or need to know….sometimes I do, too.

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