I don't engage my employees in conversation outside of work related communication or the Seahawks, and then only if they ask a direct question. I figured out thirty years ago that they don't laugh because my jokes are funny, and I stopped telling jokes.
A friendship (or any other non-professional relationship) is an exercise in equality, with shared power.
My employees and I are not equal, because the power balance is wrong. Washington state is an at-will state, which means I can end their jobs for almost any reason, or no reason. They can't end my job. We are not equal. It's not even fair to tell that joke-- because they'll laugh, on cue.
Therefore, I don't pretend that we're friends, or that we have any relationship other than professional. To do so would be (in my opinion) an abuse of power. The power I hold would overshadow everything.
I leave at lunch, I'm never there at coffee break. I don't ever impinge on their time. I've bought them pizza, but only by buying the whole crew several pizzas, and then leaving. Paydays are at noon on payday, and I've never handed a check over later than eleven. Ever. No one has ever had to ask me for their paycheck. I once drove forty miles to deliver a paycheck, by noon, to an employee who was sick.
I've never been faced with an employee who was a member of my range, I can't say for certain how I'd deal with that.
But there's no chance I'd ask an employee for advice on one of my hobbies, or about a hobby I was thinking of exploring-- there would simply be too much at stake for him or her, and there would be nothing fair about the conversation.
I don't know, for sure, if my employees understand why I do things the way I do, I don't know, for sure, if they appreciate it or resent it.
I do it because I think it's the right way to do business, and because I think it affords my employees the most dignity I can generate for them.
All of this to say that I've put a lot of thought into this issue, and hammered out my rules, for me, late at night.
I hope the boss you're talking to about reloading has done the same.
"Huh?" --Jammer Six, 1998