Your boss shouldn’t be your friend.
I don’t mean you specifically; I’m sure you’re great. But as a general rule of thumb, it’s a bad idea for bosses to be friends with their employees.
I want to be very clear, I am not saying a boss can’t be vulnerable, open, or tease you about your choice in back-pack, but there’s a line between friendly and friend.
But, here’s the thing, we don’t live within the pages of an HR handbook and we spend more time with our co-workers than anyone else. We’re all looking for a bud to help make the day short — so it happens.
After 18 months of being friends, you’re right — you won’t be able to completely reverse that and I doubt you fully want to, but it’s possible to set boundaries — more on that in a second.
First, I want you to take ownership for what you can. How are you contributing to this? Do you get anything out of it? Do you ever skip out a little early because you’re friends? Do you talk to him like he’s a friend too? I’m not asking you to totally blame yourself but just think about the things that you ask of this ‘friendship’, as you start to set boundaries for him.
You mentioned that if you don’t do his work then the ship will go down. Okay, level with me for a second — there’s a little bit of pleasure in being seen as the only one that can save the ship, right?
There’s pride in being the person that directs all women and children to the lifeboats.
We all like being seen as the one person that can fix it — without us, everyone else is a goner. But, if you want to make changes you have to let this go. You cannot be everything to everybody. One person alone can’t save the ship.
If you’re okay with losing the “saves the day” credit, then you can get started on setting boundaries.
It doesn’t have to be some big, grand gesture. But, you have to say something.
As dumb as it sounds, he might not know that there’s anything wrong with his behavior. He may genuinely think that you’re fine doing these things. He might think he’s delegating or making you feel important.
The next time he asks you to do something that should be his responsibility say something like, “Okay, I can do that but what would you like me to prioritize? My task or yours?” or “Should I fill out your expense report or should I put out this fire with the client? I can’t do both today.” This may help him put what he’s asking of you into perspective.
What’s great is that he never directly asks you to do anything. Use that your advantage. Play dumb. When he says, “I’ve uploaded my receipts. :)” say something like, “Great! I’m on a call right now but I can send you instructions on how to do it.”
Every time you push back, he’ll start picking up what you’re laying down.
You shouldn’t be friends, but that ship has sailed (it had to be said). Setting boundaries will help but only if you give up this fantasy of being the only one that can get the job done.
Don’t quit or punch him the face —just fight back a little, even if the fighting is simply asking “What’s more important for me to do? Mine or yours?”
– Career Coach
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