Working with friends

It’s great to have friends. And in today’s busy working environment, it’s great to have your friends right there where you work.

However, we’ve all heard horror stories about hiring friends and the general idea is that it simply doesn’t work out. One reason for that is perhaps the on a friend’s part that are often not realized in reality. Let’s look at some of them:

Loosing your job

It somehow feels natural that if you are hired by a friend, you are immune to being sacked. However, this has happened and will keep happening, so you might as well face the fact that you may lose a job given you by a friend in the same way you may lose a job given to you by a stranger. So rely on your skills to carry you through, rather than connections.

Feeling too confident

If hired by a friend, you may feel in some way associated with the management and thus “raise yourself” to a higher position of authority in the company. This may come across as arrogant behavior at meetings and conferences and create an overall negative attitude among other employees. So remembering that you are equal to your peers in the company, regardless of your relations with the management, is an important success factor.

No drama

Working together can sometimes create more drama than we would have thought. A comment here and there, wrong tone of voice, a simple critical remark, topped off with a touch of deadlines and overtime can turn into a big thing before you even know it. The key is to separate “personal” form “corporate” and regard criticism and suggestions as tips to better performance.

Conflicts of interest.

It is a simple truth that company management wants what’s best for the company. Sadly, it may not always be what is best for you, as an employee working for the company. But if you are friends with the management, you may be inclined to think that friendship ties will come before company matters, thus putting your managing friend in a highly uncomfortable “it’s me or them” position. Once again, do not mix “personal” with “corporate”.

Boundary issues.

A pat on the back, frequent lunches together, practical jokes in the office or a tone of familiarity…all of these things are great when associated with friendship. But companies, however liberal, do have hierarchy. So another problem you may face are boundary issues. In this case, it’s all about changing your perception, that “Bob” is now “Mr. Warner”, a superior and that your conversations, behavior and attitude should reflect that during working hours.

You may find some of the above tips useful. And it is better to be prepared for potential pitfalls. However, you will probably never be 100% ready. After all, personal relationships are tricky and often unpredictable. Same goes for business ones. And when you mix them together…well, you will need to work extra hard.

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