Business owners are frequently treading that fine line between strong leader and dictator. If they don’t act correctly, they can quickly alienate their staff members and suck the morale out of the workplace.

But contrary to popular belief, it’s not too hard to be both a good leader, and a good friend. By doing so, you maintain the integrity of your business while ensuring your staff remain happy. Your employees make your company tick, and it’s vital you show them your support.

i am the boss

What NOT to do…

Back them up with nasty customers

Every business gets them, but not every employee is equipped to handle these situations. Whether it’s a customer that’s unhappy with service or is just being rude for the sake of it, you must have your employees’ back.

I’m not saying you should be rude to the customer in return, just be there to support your own staff member. If the customer is entirely right and the service was poor, try and diffuse the situation without making your employee feel bad. It’s tricky to get right, but is rewarding if you do.

Help them tackle personal problems

Your employees will be spending a good portion of their week at work. This means that the workplace is almost a home away from home, and you should make it feel like it. Your staff want to go to work to escape these problems, not make them worse!

There are several ways to do this. Researching EAP solutions and advice can reduce personal stress and improve attendance. Or, physically discussing issues with staff can make them feel more at ease. It’s up to you how you choose to tackle the issue, just be sure to remain sensitive and comforting.

Give them opportunities for growth

A career is all about new opportunities, and new working challenges. Nobody wants to be stuck at the same level for the rest of their working life. As an employer, if you want your staff to stick around, you must ensure they have a clear chance to move up in your business.

This might be tricky to convey to newcomers, but once they’ve proven their mettle you must look at giving top performers more chances. A higher salary for a position with higher responsibility is a move that will please both parties.

Show an interest in their life outside work

Not that you should pretend to take an interest in their hobbies or anything, but just asking about their loved ones would go a long way.

This makes your team feel more like a team. By not restricting work conversations to just work, you lift any stresses that may have existed.

Be a friend, not a boss

Your business will generate profits through productivity. Higher levels of productivity are brought about by having motivated employees. And motivated employees are more compelled to work harder if they know you won’t shout down their ear hole every time they make a mistake.

The point is, you’re not running a prison, you’re running a collaborative environment. You aren’t above these people; you’re on the same level as them. Working as hard as they do, attending all the same conferences they do and doing the same work they do reinforces this notion.