Some interesting discussions at Inner Circle this week. One really challenges conventional management wisdom. That wisdom being, don’t get too close to your employees.

At a large corporation there are lots of resources and lots of employees, so it’s easier to distance yourself. A corporate policy exists with HR departments to help you deal with problems. And there are employees to step in and pick up the slack.

At a small or mid-sized firm HR doesn’t really exist, and there aren’t the multitudes of staff. Business owners really count on their employees, and being passionate entrepreneurs they work side by side with them. They treat them like family. They are more involved in motivating them and leading them, then just managing them. So it’s difficult for the business owner to draw the line. Maybe the conventional wisdom of drawing the line isn’t so conventional.

Repeatedly I hear stories at Inner Circle about owners crossing the conventional line drawn in the sand between them and their employees. More often than not the result is positive. The compassion shown pays off. The results are loyalty, better performance, and the compassionate satisfaction that comes from helping some else get better.

I’ve come around on this issue, learning from my Inner Circle clients, instead of the other way around. The next time someone asks the question about how far to go, my advice is going to be, as far as you feel comfortable. My question back will be “Are you doing what’s right?”