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The problem is this person is your manager and having your manager as a BFF can be bit unsettling. The Karaoke Manager always has you looking over your shoulder and second guessing their display of friendship. The music you are being forced to sing along with may actually be the fact that your manager has not successfully made the move from individual contributor to supervisor, or supervisor to manager, or manager to leader.
Many times the Karaoke Manager’s behavior is the result of them not figuring out how to “play ball” at the next level in the organization.
While your Karaoke Manager most likely intends no harm with their style, people observing may form their own opinions which are not true.
If the casual approach of your Karaoke Manager may be sending the wrong signals, then forming some new approaches may be the answer. Another boundary you may need to evaluate is any out of the office interaction with your manager. Many Karaoke Managers simply think they are making themselves available and their intentions are only to be there to help you and the team. Getting back in tune with your Karaoke Manager can make things sound pretty good – and it is worth the effort!
Not that there is anything wrong with being friendly or wanting people to like you, but this kind of manager just loves to be in the middle of your business like your BFF (Best Friend Forever).
Let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t be more than a casual acquaintance with this person anywhere else, but now it is different because this is your karaoke manager.
It feels like a peer relationship but you are expecting – and wanting – something that is more professional. Making small talk, reminiscing, letting their hair down and being your BFF is a whole lot more comfortable than telling you the budget is cut or they can’t deliver on something you need to complete the project.
Are you their “special” friend or do they treat everyone like this when they want someone to do all of the work that you are doing?


They haven’t made the conscious decision that as their role in the business changes their relationships in the business need to change accordingly. There’s a whole new team there that one day was “them” and now they are “us.” Understandably this can be quite an adjustment and your manager – like most of us – is reverting back to the way things used to be instead of addressing the change head on. For example, they may think less of your manager because of their “unprofessional me too” approach with staff or they may conclude that your manager isn’t a strong leader. For example, at work limit discussion that focuses on personal interaction between you and your manager – the whole office doesn’t need to know that you are golfing or shopping buddies. If you feel pressure to socialize out of the office with your manager, you may need to address expectations and perceptions. So, instead of having them make small talk just so they can feel that they are there for you, why not be very specific in way that they can help you. The threads that run through the potential solutions are objective assessment and honest communication. They just want to sing along with you – and you have to sing a long, it’s your manager – you just can’t say no to the music because they pick the song! Will you get full credit for the work you are doing or is there a chance that others may share in the credit because we’re all BFFs?
We’re not saying they need to get more distant, authoritarian and insensitive as they move up the organization, but they can’t remain as casual, whimsical, nonchalant and laid-back as they may have once been.
They feel disconnected from their new operating world, so it is much easier falling back to the comfort of people you know and like and who know and like you. As for their perceptions about you, they may think you can’t work independently since your manager seems to always be watching over your shoulder – if your manager can’t trust you to do a good job then how can they?. Perhaps formalizing interactions at work are in order – both of your limit impromptu “drop in” meetings and schedule your meetings like everyone else does.
While this can be a very delicate topic – in fact, sometimes this after hours socialization is framed up as teamwork and relationship building – you need to put it into context with company and industry norms.


Make the conversation as much about them as you make it about yourself (don’t make it a solo!). You’d even settle for a team relationship, but they should definitely be the leader of the team and not be someone on equal footing with you and everyone else. And beyond that awkward feeling is the question of how other people at work may be viewing you.
If you discover that their behavior is consistent with you and with others, then you need to accept that this is their style and identify some strategies to adjust your reaction. If your manager tends to micro-manage your projects, then perhaps asking them for some space to individually do your work while ensuring them that you will be checking in with them and the rest of the project team on predetermined intervals. This may be asking for some dedicated time to get their opinions on the direction of one of your projects, or asking them to coach or mentor your professional development. Each of you must understand that it takes at least two complementary notes to create harmony. If their behavior appears to be unique with you, then it is time for a conversation where you can express your concern and suggest a few changes to your interactions.
Communicate to your manager that their management approach could be hurting both of you unfairly and that correction is easily made with adopting a few new boundaries and behaviors. The list could be endless, but make it very specific so that they see you value how they can help and you are expecting their engagement. They know you can’t say no to someone who makes you laugh, goes shopping with you or skips out of work early to hit the links with you.



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