Tonight is one of those nights when I have people at work mad at me. I have one lady who works for me who is upset because my boss and I had to give her a final written warning this afternoon for lack of productivity. One guy who works for me is mad at me because I wouldn't let him work just one hour of overtime tonight instead of the mandatory two that everyone is expected to work. Another guy is mad at me because of a situation with a workplace injury that I won't go into here.
These things are all part and parcel of being a supervisor, so they don't bother me. Here's why: You are supposed to be many things to the people who work for you: leader, provider of tools and supplies, cheerleader, traffic director, defender, planner and also fellow employee. What you are not supposed to be is a friend. Trying to do that can get you into a lot of trouble. Yes, you can be pleasant, open, even friendly, but you are not the employee's friend, and vice versa. There is a certain fine line there that should not be crossed in the relationship between employee and boss.
It's always easy to spot supervisors or managers do cross that line and try to be a friend to their employees. You will hear others complain about them playing favorites. You will hear or witness that they have an inability to be fair, impartial and consistent in making all kinds of decisions.
I always try to be a good boss in that I am firm but also fair and consistent. I feel that I would do my employees (and the company) a disservice by conducting myself in any other way. I believe that we have a big responsibility as members of management to everyone we come into contact with at work to be the best we can be at all times.