A Wall Street Journal article describes the positive and negative effects of being friends with your boss. Research shows that managers do give preferential treatment to employees they consider friends.
However, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology demonstrates that managers may favor others when decisions are public. To avoid perceptions of bias, Alex Shaw, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, offers three solutions for managers:
Recuse yourself. I’m skeptical about this because a manager’s job is to make such decisions, but I see the point: if you can get out of being the final decision maker, that might be best in some situations.
Make the criteria public. This is a good practice, anyway, to ensure transparency in decisions, particularly those that are sensitive and affect people personally.
Ask for opinions. This could work, for example, when peer feedback may be as relevant—or more relevant—than the manager’s point of view.
Have you considered a boss a friend? How might the relationship have affected decisions?
What’s your view of the strategies suggested here? In what types of situations could each work or backfire?