GoodiesOn December 24, I headed to the post office near closing time to see if a package had arrived. I was waiting on a box with a couple of gifts I had purchased for my brothers. I noticed that, when I checked my mail box, I had a key in it, which meant that I had a package in an even larger mail box waiting for me.

I opened it, but it wasn’t the box I was expecting. It was a different box and it was from one of my moderators on, named Danielle. I wasn’t expecting anything, so it came as a total surprise.

After I made it home, I opened the box to find a card and an assortment of goodies from the United Kingdom, where Danielle lives. Along with a kind note, there were Jaffa Cakes, a Galaxy bar, Tesco Jam Roly Poly Toffees, Sprinty Kinder Surprise, a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar and more. All of which I have never had.

I was blown away by it. It was so kind and amazing. With maybe a few random exceptions, I have never received a gift like this from anyone I wasn’t related to.

It reminded me that my staff members are people I like and that’s important. I only want to be around people I like, people that help me, make my life easier and make me better. People I like can become my friends and many of my staff members, current and former, are people I consider to be friends.

I think there can be a natural desire to want to keep your friends separate from your staff but to force that is to be unnatural. You don’t want to create a conflict of interest when you are responsible for someone and have to sometimes correct them or review their decisions. You don’t want them to get too familiar and expect preferential treatment. You don’t want to be put in the position of having to correct a friend or have someone suggest you are biased because they are your friend.

Those are all legitimate concerns, but I think most people miss out if they disconnect themselves in such a way. It takes a strong person to be able to be someone’s friend and to hold them accountable. It can be done, though and, in some ways, I expect more of my friends. Sometimes that damages or ends friendships. I also believe that someone who is really my friend would never expect me to treat them differently from any other member. If they do, they aren’t really my friend.

Friendships will be built through your online community, not just for your members, but for you and you should embrace that.

Online communities really are amazing.