Office Relationships – Personal, Professional, or Both
One of the key differentiators for Gen Y is that we enjoy working with those we have relationships with. This has been documented and proven; and great managers are able to build these relationships. Even TIME magazine cites, “Friendship is such a strong motivator for them that Gen Y workers will choose a job just to be with their friends.”
But – what “type” of friendship is the “right” one to build?
I’ve been told numerous times to keep my professional and personal lives and relationships separate. But I don’t agree. I choose to work with individuals for the same reason I choose to build relationships in my personal life: shared values. And I firmly believe that it is a rarity to find someone who thinks and feels as you do, so when you do find that combination – why limit it to a ‘professional’ relationship? And thinking about it – what IS a professional relationship and what is the difference in a personal and professional relationship?
I guess some would say a professional relationship limits conversations to more business speak; where as personal relationships and conversations can go anywhere from politics to religion and all through the spectrum. I’m unsure who everyone else has worked with, but the people I’ve worked with have certainly made their belief system known; and I like that. For me, “what you see is what you get” and I hope to work with people who are the same way.
Is it so wrong to spend time with work ‘friends’ outside of the office? To baby-sit their children? To engage in their personal lives? I don’t think so. And it hasn’t necessarily hurt me in the past. Or I should say, it has not hurt me anymore than it would if a ‘personal friend’ hurt me in some way.
I think we should look at professional relationships the same way we do personal relationships. If someone betrays your trust or does something you don’t like personally – if you have a close relationship – I think it’s okay to ask about it. If they do something professionally, I think it’s okay to do the same. I believe as long as one realizes that there may be an EFFECT (positive or negative) on a working relationship based on a personal issue or vice versa – one is realizing they are taking a chance on that. But knowing and being open to taking that chance is really (I think) how we find true life long business partners AND friends. If you don’t open yourself up to a full, real relationship – no matter what form it may take – you’re closing yourself off to what could be something magical.