How should a boss’s relationship with their employees be?
A very interesting topic that we are going to deal with this week is the comparison between a personal relationship and a professional relationship. Mainly, how personal relationships similar can be similar to relationships between leaders or between boss and worker.
The Professional Couple
Until now, professional relationships between worker and employer or between worker and company resembled parent-child relationships, in which the parent is the one who dictates what has to be done, orders, decides and is also the one who offers rewards or praise if things are done well or punishment if things are done wrong. Traditionally, this relationship between parents and children was very similar to the relationship between a boss and a worker or the rest of the team.
However, this is changing and evolving towards a professional relationship that incorporates more aspects of a personal relationship, like that found within a couple. This trend is ideal and it is much healthier to have a professional partner with a series of characteristics that define that relationship in such a way that it resembles a relationship.
Another example of this type of situation is a relationship in which one partner was the one who dominated the relationship because they brought home the money. In this case, the other person was very dependent on and conditioned by them. Those relationships are a bit like old-fashioned employment relationships, where the manager or employer was a dictator and had the power and control. But that has changed and now they are two equal people, but some things that are so clear to us in our personal relationships we have difficulty applying to our professional ones. An employee will not “fall in love” with you or the company just based on fear or power, relationships must be developed based on trust and collaboration.
Trust in professional relationships
Continuing with the comparison between personal and professional relationships, let’s talk about trust.
At the beginning, in a relationship, we get to know each other, we do not have absolute trust in the other party. As time goes by we become more able to trust the other person because we have confidence in them, we are not doubting at all times if that person is with another or if they are telling us the whole truth or not; we do not doubt and we stay with that person because we trust him.
The same thing happens on the professional level. Once enough time has passed, a period in which we have gotten to know the other person and their work professionally, we have to be show them love and respect in order to continue strengthening our professional relationship. We must have absolute confidence that they are doing a good job, even if we don’t see it. We must trust that they can work from home and that they will perform, that they can have freedom of schedule because they are committed to the relationship we have built and because they are looking out for the company. We have to trust and if not, it is better not to continue.
Control over the other Person (partner-worker)
Imagine that in a relationship we constantly had doubts as to whether the person we have been with for a long time still loves us, if they are doing what they tell us, or if we need to have control at all times of where they are, what they are doing and with whom.
This is exactly what happens in a traditional employment relationship, the one we have known up to now, in which a manager or boss has and needs to have total control over the working life of his worker.
If not, why are there rigid check-in and check-out times? Because being there in person to oversee this was the way to control and be sure that that person was doing their job. The same goes for ongoing reports, even targets. Work by objectives is still a method for the worker to show us at all times their professionalism and involvement with the company. However, there are situations in which we should trust that person regardless of whether or not they provide daily reports to us or come to the office. It is something that is going to change and that is going to end up looking a lot like a healthy relationship.
Roads and Crossroads
We all have a life outside of work and that life takes us on different paths, but it is important and necessary to create a common space at work in which to be comfortable and happy. We spend a lot of time with the people at work and that is why it is necessary to create a good atmosphere. We do the same with our partner, if we´re not enjoying the time we spend with them then something is wrong – just like at work.
Therefore, labour relations are evolving towards a model that is very similar to personal relationships, where we have to make the other party fall in love, trust them, take care of them and consider them an equal, not someone we must control. In this way, we will be able to enjoy managing people, our workplace and our colleagues.