The BFF Boss Conundrum

Will you work for your BFF? If you ask me this a year ago, I’d say “Go for it! Why not?!”

I used to take no qualms in establishing friendships with bosses. However, recent events changed my perspective on setting boundaries at work. I had to learn certain things the hard way.

Here is a tricky real life situation. I was good friends with my boss at a project I took. I was really excited to take on the work with the assumption that the work load will be made lighter in the company of such familiar faces. I believed that the rapport I had with the boss of the endeavor will only spur us to do our best in the project.

Sad to say, the whole partnership ended up in a very painful falling out. Here is the biggest problem that besets overly intimate boss and subordinate relations: you cannot extricate job-related impacts out of the person’s life crisis.

I write this because I often write about my experiences at work and this is one of the biggest and hardest lessons I had to learn this year: never be too close to your boss.

Avoid working for a bosom friend unless you are sure that the friendship is worth the risk.

In my particular experience, a personal and life shattering crisis besest my boss at work. It came to the point where she was just coming to work as a shell of her former competent self. She no longer had the energy to spearhead the project whose deadlines continued to pile up. As a friend, I wanted to take on all the work on her behalf. As a co-worker, I was reeling from the difficulty of doing a job meant to be done by two people.

And here was the clincher: you will be cruel or a heartless bitch for calling her out. Because she is under such a bad situation, you will feel uncomfortable discussing the elephant in the room. The only option I felt at the time was to leave because I could not handle the unexpected crisis that steamrolled work operations. It was as if we were at the mercy of a personal crisis and I just chanced upon the bad timing of it all.

My love for her as friend eventually dissipated because of mounting disruptions at work. And even as she railroaded the team with the non-delivery, she refused to let go of the job because it was her way of earning money. iven the situation, it was hard to recommend her to other opportunities professionally.

I felt horrible for her but my compassion eventually wore off. Eventually I had to rescue the other subordinates from the mood swings and the horrible non-delivery of promised tasks. She started randomly raising her voice at people in the room and refused to seek psychological help even when it was clear that she needed to process her issues.

The irony was that I kind of had to choose between keeping my friend and keeping the deadlines on the job. I hataed her all the more for putting me in a position like that.

And after I made my choice, the very people I rescued at work ended up betraying me a month later.

Ironically, I was clear about personal and professional boundaries when I took over handling the project. And a month later, I was ofrced to let go of the project because of the blatant disregard for these boundaries.

Nobody won in this whole mess; everyone emerged as a casualty of not having simple boundaries established among the members of the team.

It was really awful to be put in such a situation. Nobody ever deserves to be in the crosshair of a painfully awkward professional and personal intersection such as this. And it is ten times much worse if the work is for a good cause and all the beneficiaries of the endeavor are suffering just because of personal differences.

It was a very humbling experience. It is one of the most painful lessons I had to learn this year and even when it is really difficult, I am thankful that it happened. At least, I will not forget it too easily or embark in another venture that will put me in a similar situation. I also realized my tendencies and what particular situations pushed me to my limits.

Apart from licking wounds and cutting losses, moving on involves acknowledging the lesson behind the painful experience. And may this blog post serve as a warning to people who are planning to make BFFs with their bosses. While some exceptional cases are commendable, it is not something I can really recommend based on my experience. I no longer want hard life lessons to be wasted. People tend to repeat other people’s mistakes because nobody bothered to write about it.

Hopefuly, this piece will warn a person who is about to commit this same mistake; posibly, a random stranger is in a similar situation and chanced upon this tiny digital space. My verdict: it is not worth your time, find other meaninful ventures that do not implicate you in a situation of choosing between losing a friend and losing your excellence in your job.

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