employee engagement

Is it possible to be friends with my boss?

Is it possible to be friends with my boss? 

by Teo Beng Wee

Branding and Graphic Designer



I’m sure we all know the saying “Never Do Business With Friends” because misunderstandings or differing visions will not only affect the business, it may also break the friendship.  Here’s another question we surely have thought of, “Is it possible to be friends with my boss?”

Personally, I think the answer depends on certain factors and the situation one is in. Here are some perspectives you may want to consider when you start to foster such a relationship. 


Be mindful of biases that may affect professional judgement

Pay attention to the professional situations that require your unbiased judgment and more personal situations in which you can joke around as friends. You’re ultimately still employed as a professional and may sometimes need to stand up to your boss or challenge some of his/her opinions in a respectful way.


Keep the relationship authentic

Being real matters and it’s important that we ask ourselves if we genuinely like the other party beyond the workplace and if the relationship is natural. Your relationship with your boss should not hold any hidden agendas and it should be an exchange that is natural and something you genuinely want to cultivate. 


Include others in the relationship

Being friends with your boss shouldn’t become an exclusive club that leaves out the rest of your colleagues. When you include others in the relationship, increased shared understanding builds camaraderie and friendship between yourself, your boss and your fellow colleagues. This in turn bonds the team and could translate into greater collaboration within the team.


From my point of view, it’s possible to become friends with your boss but you should be mindful of the situations that call you to be a colleague, or a friend. If you’re able to manage the balance between these two roles, your friendship with your boss might make it easier for the both of you to speak authentically with each other and encourage greater collaboration.


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Real Research: Leadership Challenges of 2017

by Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist


In our last article for Real News, we discussed the impact of technological development and the shift in workforce demographics on the learning and development landscape in 2017. Building on our previous conversation, this issue explores how the changes in technology and the workforce might create challenges for leaders. We focus on three key leadership challenges of 2017 and what leaders can do to overcome these challenges:

1. Retaining Millennials

Millennials bring with them a different set of expectations. Compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they value growth and advancement opportunities significantly more. With compensation ranking sixth on Millennials’ job wish list (Rigoni and Adkins, 2016), the
traditional incentive system of premium compensation might not be enough to keep Millennial talents. Thus, leaders need to rethink the way they engage Millennials by…

  • Redesigning initiatives based on what Millennials want. Leaders can refer to numerous studies published on the topic or conduct their own internal survey to find out what’s important to Millennials.
  • Gathering feedback and continuously improving them. No one gets it right the first time. Leaders should gather feedback on the effectiveness of initiatives and continuously develop them.


2. Engaging Remote Teams

As technology makes collaboration over distance easier than ever, we see a rise in remote teams (Jones, 2015), in which members work from various locations and might not even have the chance to meet each other. While this new way of working allows companies to leverage on talents located in different places, it presents leaders with the challenge of bonding the team and engaging members. To ensure their virtual teams thrive, leaders can start by:

  • Clearly defining goals and individual roles. Leaders should set clear goals for the team and discuss how each member can contribute to achieving those goals.
  • Creating a conducive environment for trust. While trust is important for teams in all settings, it becomes even more critical for virtual teams. Leaders should encourage team members to get to know each other better beyond work, and have open discussions on how they can work with each other.


3. Developing Future Leaders

As many senior managers plan for retirement in the near future, leadership succession has become a challenge. Moving forward, leaders need to take a different perspective on leadership development and succession planning. Leaders can start planning early by…

  • Going the extra mile to identify talents. Instead of limiting themselves to the usual shortlisted top performers, leaders should cast a wider net in their search for potential leaders and include those who meet certain criteria but have not made it to the shortlist. To do so, leaders can leverage on a crowdsourcing method, where employees nominate potential talents based on their observations.
  • Being aware that formal training alone is not sufficient. While still a critical component of leadership development, formal training alone is insufficient to prepare future leaders; other significant aspects include continuous feedback and coaching (Bersin, 2016). Thus, current leaders will need to be prepared to invest more time and resources over the long run to build future leaders.


Bersin, J. (2016). 11 predictions for 2017. 

Deloitte University Press. (2016). Global human capital trend 2016.

Ferrazzi, K. (2014). Getting virtual teams right.

Harvard Business Review. Harrell, E. (2016). Succession planning: What the research says.

Harvard Business Review. Jones, J. M. (2015). In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/184649/ telecommuting-work-climbs.aspx

Lane, K., Larmaraud, A., and Yueh, E. (2016). Finding hidden leaders.

McKinsey Quarterly. Maier, S. (2016). Leadership's top 3 challenges in 2017. Retrieved from https:// www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadershipstop-3-challenges-2017-steffen-maier

Rigoni, B. and Adkins, A. (2016). What millennials want from a new job. Harvard Business Review.


What other trends have you noticed, or are already experiencing yourself? We would love to hear from you at connect@pace-od.com!


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