Should managers hang out with employees outside of work? Frankly, it’s not an easy question to answer with complete certainty. It’s more useful to explore the potential pros and cons of hanging out with employees, as a guide to how you should behave.
You can get to know the employees better.
Hanging out with your employees in unstructured time, such as a happy hour or an impromptu get-together, can lead to getting to know the people who report to you better as people, no question about it. The chatting that occurs can reveal that you both love the Red Sox, or that you both like karaoke.
Shared enthusiasm can make work more fun. Increased interaction can also help your job by making you aware of issues or talents you didn’t know before.
Closer relationships might promote engagement and loyalty.
Employees who know and like their managers can feel more engaged with their jobs and with the company. They may feel increased loyalty.
Employees who feel more engagement and loyalty are likely to work harder and less likely to look for other positions.
You may be placed in an awkward position.
At the same time, though, hanging out can place managers in an awkward position. What if you discover that an employee has a problem with alcohol or other substances, or witness inappropriate comments made by one employee towards another? Your position as a manager can make you responsible for reporting any instances of harassment or sexual harassment to the company.
Employees may take advantage
Some employees, unfortunately, may be tempted to take advantage of hanging out with the boss to take advantage of the relationship – or the get-together itself. They may come in late after happy hours, for instance, or ask if they can leave early to snag those Red Sox season tickets. If they do, it’s almost certain to breed resentment on the part of other employees.
Propose an Alternative
The best solution might be to propose an alternative social event with your staff. You don’t want to never socialize with your team, because they may feel you don’t like them. But some risks come with socializing.
Develop a team get-together, such as a sporting event or even a group party. That promotes teamwork and sociability, with the concomitant engagement and loyalty, but avoids the creation of any situations that might be uncomfortable or negatively affect your relationships with the team.
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