Hiring a friend. Sometimes it’s a match made in heaven. Then, there are times when it was not worth the ultimate cost. Hiring friends can be tricky. This is because we all have a “work” persona and a “home” persona. How we act and interact at home is often very different than how we are at the office. Back when I worked in the motion picture industry, a good friend of mine was hired as an extra. She later commented how she was surprised to see me so focused and serious on the set. She said I was so completely different from the person she knew that it seemed like I was a stranger. I am much more serious at work than at home. Fortunately, I was able to explain this to her and avoid any “hurt” feelings.
Have you or are you considering hiring a friend? If so, below are a few pitfalls to look out for and/or try to avoid to help strengthen both your work relationship and friendship.
Work Styles Can Differ
Everyone has their own style of working. Some people are all business all the time at the office. Others invite small talk and conversation. When styles are completely opposite, they tend to clash. A person accustomed to making small talk may interpret a co-worker who is “all business” as being cold. On the other hand, the employee who is serious may get the impression that the co-worker making small talk is not focused and wasting time. This can be a challenge in any office environment, but when you add the fact that the two are also “friends”, it can be especially difficult. If you choose to hire a friend, be sure to have a long talk with him or her up front. Outline your expectations, discuss your work styles and make clear that business and friendship will remain separate. Establishing this up front can save a lot of headaches later.
Do not show favoritism and be sure to hold your friend to the same expectations as the rest of your staff. Double standards, either actual or perceived, always cause problems in the workplace. Sometimes the hired friend feels like they can get away with certain behaviors. If this occurs, be sure to address it immediately. If you see no improvement, then you may need to either reprimand your friend, or, worst case scenario, let him/her go.
Keep Work and Friendship Separate
We’ve touched a bit on this. It is very important to keep your business and personal relationship separate. This is healthy for you, your friend, and your staff. Displaying too much of your “friendship” at work can create animosity with other employees. And, if you continually discuss business outside of work, that can strain your friendship. Keeping everything separate will promote harmony both in and outside of the office.
When at work, business must always come before friendship. Not all friendships are meant for work; but not all instances of friends working together turn out negative. A sorority sister from college is not only one of my dearest friends, but also my business partner. We talked about going into business together years ago, and once we did, we turned it into a rewarding and successful venture. If you plan to work with a friend, just go in with your eyes wide open and be willing to “end” the business relationship if it does not appear to be working out. Employees are a dime a dozes; true friends are rare and priceless. Good luck!
Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.