Topic - Being good friends with employees you support as a HR Manager or those that you supervise as a manager...
Let me first say this - you are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don't. Everyone wants to be more than a HR Director or the manager of an employee - we want to be someone that the employee can rely on in times of need, someone the employee can consider a friend. The downside is that deep friendships with employees you manage directly or support in a HR capacity can sometimes position you as questionable with employees that aren't in the inner circle.
So, we all dance the dance to figure out the middle ground.
Of course, there are other concerns. You could be hijacked by an troubled employee grasping for leverage in an employment situation. Case in point? Stephon Marbury of pro basketball's New York Knicks. From Deadspin:
"Stephon Marbury (guard for the Knicks), an investment that has totally paid off for the Knicks, supposedly blew up at Isiah (Coach and GM) when he learned he wasn't starting last night and bolted the team. But his threat to Isiah is the real beauty here.
"Isiah has to start me," Marbury fumed, according to the source. "I've got so much (stuff) on Isiah and he knows it. He thinks he can (get) me. But I'll (get) him first. You have no idea what I know."
We can only imagine how juicy this must be. Lord, Stephon, please don't tell us he was in the truck with you and the intern. That's too much for our meager brains to take"
That's the ugly side of getting too close with the employees you manage or support, or for that matter, with those who supervise you. The winners are those of us with an open door and the reputation for being approachable. Those at risk? Both extremes - those waaaay too close to those they manage (see Isiah above) and those who never say hi in the hallway.
Find the middle ground accordingly. Nobody wants someone to go all Marbury on you....