flickrAd Age wrote an article a couple weeks back that caught my attention. The article was named Do Bossfriends Create Great Employees? which takes the side that being friends with your employees create great employees. The argument he makes is that the more your employees like you, the more they will do for you. But I find the whole concept of being friends with employees to make them better employees to be, um…, somewhat oxymoronic. How so you ask? Well, if you’re friendly to your employees only because you want them to be better employees, then your true intentions seem way off. Not sure if I am getting my point across – but to fake to be friendly in an effort to make for better employees, imo, will back fire.

My take? I don’t believe employers should be on a friend relationship level. I have some of the best employees here at RustyBrick, but I make an effort to not cross the line of being their friends. Why? Not because I don’t like them – it’s the opposite. I really like every one of my staff members. They are all talented, creative, hard-working, honest and most importantly good people. They have the qualities I look for in friends.

But I don’t feel an employer should be a friend with their employees. I personally don’t think going out for drinks with employees is something I would think is appropriate. I don’t think hanging with employees is a good thing. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in going to an employees happy or sad occasion – but I feel there should be some sort of line drawn.

Maybe it was the way I was raised. Who knows.

Does this leave for a stale company culture at RustyBrick? No way! The guys often go out for lunch together during the day. I believe some hang on the weekends, go to baseball games, play video games in the office on Friday afternoons and much more.

In the future, I hope to write a blog post giving your more details on the RB staff. It should be fun, but it will take a while for me to start on that.

Website Comments


    i agree with u 100 percent

    u should not be friends with ur workers if u are the boss
    its a terrbile thing and it can cause huge problems later on i also belive dont mix business with family either ( eventhough u are partners with ur brother) i am talking about doing business with someone else if ur bro was an acct or something and u used him it think its wrong and can cause huge problems later on

    i also say that husbands and wives should not work together too WHAT DO U THINK OF THAT
    can make a good post too

  2. Barry Schwartz

    I know many spouse teams. I assume for some couples it works. I wont generalize that all spouses shouldnt work together. I know you want to get me in trouble.

  3. Michael Scott

    I believe that friends are the glue that stick the office together. I don’t know about you, but all my employees are my best friends and I love each and every one of them.

    Michael Scott,
    Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch Manager

    P.S. Wikipedia is… the best thing ever!


    i am not getting u in trouble

    I CAN TELL u 100 percent
    I WOULD NEVER EVER work with my wife
    we would kill eachother in a day

  5. Igor The Troll

    As a company owner I feel being friendly with my employees does help to foster community relationship which is more flat vs from the top down. Going out for drinks with all of them as a party may help foster better working relationship between the boss and your employees.

    Would I consider them my friends, probably not, but they would probably would not think of me as one as well.

    I do not pretend being their friend, but I am open to a friendly relationship recognizing them as my coworkers.

    At the same time you need to know how to show authority when needed.

    It is a hard balance to keep and a lot of energy involved. But it is productive for a company especially when it it is a small company.

    Just do what works for you and what makes you feel comfortable.

    Life is not absolute, although at times it may seem it is.

  6. Barry Schwartz

    Just to clarify, I am “friendly” to my employees. I am a nice guy, at least I think so.

    In fact, I suspect the RBers really like the relationship we have. I can be wrong. Maybe one will anonymously comment from the RB office IP?

  7. Kevin Doory

    I think you make a lot of good points. I have been in both situations. I think it depends on the individual and the company. If people have trouble determining “work” or “boss” Barry from “friend” Barry then it gets complicated.
    I feel you can be friendly with out being friends.

  8. Jimmy

    No need to be anonymous πŸ™‚

    I can see both sides of the argument. I think it is important to maintain a employer-employee relationship, but I also think that it is important to have some level of friendship. I wouldn’t expect to be best friends with my boss, as that would probably lead to complications, but I don’t think it would be inappropriate for the boss to join the employees for drinks, or perhaps go to a baseball game with them, or get beaten in video games by them πŸ˜‰

    I think in a small company especially it is nice to have the feeling that everyone is in it together and not to have a divide of bosses and employees, even though the line is always going to be there. That being said, I don’t think that is an issue at RustyBrick. You and Ronnie are always friendly with everyone, even though you guys are hard to read sometimes, but I am getting better with that over time. Overall RustyBrick is a great place to work and you guys are a major part of that, so thanks!

  9. Barry Schwartz

    Good to hear Jimmy. πŸ™‚

    Our personalities are just typically hard to read. Nothing to do with the employer side of things.

    Ill make more of an effort to throw myself into a video game battle and get beaten badly by you guys. As for drinks, I don’t even do that with friends – as many blog readers know. But always up for a video game. πŸ™‚

  10. Todd Mintz

    Don’t want to be too friendly with your employees because you need to maintain objectivity when deciding whether to frag them with RPG’s during one of your video game sessions.

  11. Jimmy

    I am an equal opportunity fragger.

    Understandable about the drinks, I barely drink myself, just saying that hanging out with the troops can serve as a morale booster and I wouldn’t view it as inappropriate.

  12. David

    It never works. casual friendship’s ok – no home phone calls, no going to the clubs dancing together, no hanging out at each others houses to bbq on the weekend. specifically no FAVORITISM. how you act to one, you should act to all.

    Eventually something will go wrong and then you’re screwed. Depending on the specific laws where you are-you could be burying yourself and your business. One pissed off employee can do a lot of damage to a company-and it’s pocketbook.

    Nice post.

  13. Janeth

    Miss a payday and see how good of friends they are.

    They are playing you just like you’re playing them. It’s better to be the boss and not even try the whole friend thing.

    I’ve tried it both ways and the friend thing does not work.

  14. wife

    Not to be biased, but i think Barry is as good as gold! (I am sure my sister in law would agree that Ronnie is too!)I know that he and Ronnie think highly of all of the RB employees!

  15. Read Richards

    All true. They just aren’t your pals. Having said that, I reckon its Ok to have a drink with them… can form some bonds.

    How does Richard Branson do it? Does he become friends with them or is he more the friendly mentor??

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