Thursday, July 26, 2012

Working with Friends

Do you have a best friend at work?  Most people do.  Some friendships start because you we hired at the same time and went through orientation together.  Other friendships develop over time.   You may vent to each other about frustrations or use each other as a sounding board when you're unsure of what to do in a work situation. Those friendships are important and help you feel connected. 

But, it can be difficult to balance your friendship and working relationships, especially as you move forward in your career.  Rarely do two individuals follow the same career path so at some point in time you may supervise a friend or be supervised by a friend.

Years ago I supervised a person that was a great friend.  We had a bumpy journey maneuvering through the challenges of me being an inexperienced supervisor trying to train and manage a friend.  There were a lot frustrations and a lot of uncomfortable discussions.  Eventually, we learned how to separate work and friendship and make it work. 

Here are some tips that helped me through it all:

  • Communicate.  Communication is key with all relationships.  Be willing to share your concerns and feelings.  Listen to the other person.  Be prepared to share and receivable constructive feedback.  To build strong relationships, we must strive to be honest and to understand each other.  This only happens when we communicate.

  • Set boundaries.  Define your relationship at work.  What will it look like?  How will you address assigning tasks, performance issues or other work related concerns?  How will you stay objective about the work?  How will you communicate?  This might mean redefining your relationship during work hours.  It may mean pulling back a little on the personal side so you don't get caught up in that at work. 

  • Clarify expectations.  Whether you're the supervisor or the staff, it's important to have clear expectations in terms of behavior, work product, timelines, etc.  Just like any work relationship, both sides need to work hard to ensure they are on the same page.  Define the expectations for work time and personal time.

  • Be Professional.  This is your career and your future.  Protect your reputation at work.  Stay objective and focused on the work. 
Good friends will understand the need to have clear boundaries, will understand the changing roles and work hard to separate work and personal relationships. 

The attached article gives some other things to consider.

Career Rocketeer - When Your Best Friends Becomes Your Boss

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