Go and get some real friends

Socialising at work is fine, but you need to know if and where to draw the line. POLLYANNA LENKIC

Pollyanna Lenkic

By Pollyanna Lenkic

I had a chat to someone recently about how they feel awkward about not wanting to socialise with work colleagues into the night every Friday.

It reminded me of a CEO I knew many years ago (let’s call him John) who trapped his employees into “friendship slavery” because he was unable to distinguish between healthy work socialising and intimidation. The reason he did this was probably due to him having to have his need met to be revered and perceived as popular.

Therefore most Friday nights his team were held captive, bored and feeling awkward while they listened to their illustrious leader talk about himself, his achievements and his vision for the business.

John would always take the team to the pub an hour before their usual end of the day, so everyone felt obligated to go rather than go home.

What advice would I give John now? Go get some professional help and work through what’s beneath this. You didn’t need to be a psychologist to see that there were a few issues here.

What were the consequences for John’s inappropriate behaviour?

  • He lost some of his best people, the ones he needed. The self assured and confident ones.
  • He kept the people that were not strong enough to say no; the impact on his business of having lots of yes people doesn’t need explaining.
  • He was regarded as a bit of a joke; his team were often embarrassed by his behaviour, especially after a few too many beers which resulted in his credibility being damaged both socially and in the workplace.
  • John would often invite clients to join the Friday night , which was risky and didn’t help his reputation and image.
  • And of course add a bit of leering at the women in the team for good measure, always guaranteed to create some major fall out for him professionally and personally; not to mention the distress that this caused for the women themselves.

If you see a hint of yourself in the above, address this now. It will only end in tears.

This is not to underestimate the value of interpersonal work relationship to create connection, but to ensure that it is a mutually beneficial outcome rather than one person’s ego needs being met. As a leader you need to be self aware enough to know whether you are meeting your needs at the expense of your people.

The workplace has changed and people are demanding more from their employers – more honesty, more integrity and an understanding of their own purpose and their companies. They want bosses who are congruent and who demonstrate that they understand their people and their needs.


Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australian based coaching and training company. She is an experienced facilitator, certified coach and a certified practitioner of NLP. In 1990 she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). This blog is about the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned building a business the first time round and how to do it better second time round. For more information go to www.perspectivescoaching.com.au

For more Second Time Around, click here.



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