Статья посвящена проблемам взаимоотношений друзей, когда они становятся сослуживцами. Автор статьи приводит реальные примеры, когда помощь в трудоустройстве своих товарищей приводила в итоге к краху дружбы. Чтобы сохранить отношения, перед вступлением в деловые отношения специалисты советуют друзьям избегать неопределенности и обсудить свои ожидания, ясно обозначить свои роли и установить границы, четко разделяя бизнес и дружбу.
Maybe it will work out for Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd. But often, when friends hire friends, disaster ensues.
Oracle's ( ORCL - news - people ) mutlibillionaire chief recently took on Hurd as co-president, after the Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ - news - people ) CEO was fired in the wake of allegations he had violated that company's ethics code by filing misleading expense reports for dinners with a female consultant. The two are said to be buddies and tennis partners.
Presumably Hurd and Oracle signed a legal agreement when Hurd came on board, protecting both the company and the executive. But what's tougher to protect, say executive and career coaches, is the relationship between the friends.
Marcie Schorr Hirsch of Hirsch/Hills consulting in Newton Centre, Mass., had a client who brought a good friend into his legal practice. Unfortunately the firm's fortunes turned south, and the partners decided they had to lay off the new lawyer. As the decision was being made, the two friends continued to socialize. The lawyer who had done the initial hire even listened while his chum talked about how he was about to make a down payment on a new house. When the friend was laid off, it took a huge toll on the friendship. "The lawyer who was let go felt like his friend could have at least given him a heads up or done something to prevent him from getting fired," Hirsch says.
Anita Attridge, a New York career coach, tells of a client, Chuck, who was friends with the CEO of a sales organization. The CEO invited Chuck to join the company, and for a while things went well. But Chuck assumed that his friendship with the boss gave him liberties. "He began to make his own decisions about what he would and would not do on the job," Attridge says. Chuck wound up angering his direct boss, who was one of the company's most productive managers. Though Chuck told his CEO friend about his choices, the CEO felt Chuck was taking advantage of their relationship. When it was time for a round of layoffs, Chuck was shown the door. "He didn't understand why," Attridge says. "He was very angry." The friendship ended.
Another Attridge client, Vicki, hired a friend at the nonprofit where she worked. Assuming that Vicki would want to move up the ladder, the friend worked hard and formed a relationship with Vicki's manager. When Vicki didn't get promoted, the friend pushed for a step up for herself anyhow. It turned out the manager thought more highly of Vicki's friend than of Vicki, and Vicki wound up feeling compelled to leave. Again, the friendship ruptured.
Would there have been another way to salvage these friendships, given the sticky situations? Attridge and Hirsch agree that prevention is the best medicine: Before entering into a business relationship, friends should discuss their expectations, clarify their roles and set boundaries. One rule both friends must agree upon: Business comes first.
In the case of Hirsch's lawyer client, the newly hired friend should have accepted the fact that his buddy couldn't prevent his firing or reveal confidential firm information to him before the appropriate time. In Chuck's case, Chuck was in the wrong. He took advantage of a friendship rather than behaving professionally. The same is true for Vicki, who should have expected that a colleague would be ambitious and try to move up in her organization.
"Ambiguity is the root cause of all conflict," says Cy Wakeman, a leadership and executive coach in Sioux City, Iowa. "Anything left unclear will cause conflict." Wakeman advises friends to avoid working together in the first place. "What I pitch is ditching the drama and shooting straight with people," she adds. "When I look at people in a business relationship with friends, it adds tons of drama."
A good gauge of whether a friend will work out as a colleague or employee is to look at how accountable for her actions that person has been in the past, Wakeman says. "When something goes wrong, do they spend time talking about the role they played, or do they try to get you to agree with them about how the world or other people were conspiring against them?"
Wakeman also says it's important to be able to separate feelings from professional needs and goals. "I teach people to say, 'I love you, and no,'" she explains.
One of her clients had an employee who wasn't performing, but she didn't want to let her go, because she was a friend. "My client said, 'She's got five kids. I don't want to ruin her life,'" Wakeman recalls. "I said, 'If you really care about her, keep paying her, and let her go home and be with her kids.'" The client took Wakeman's advice, offering six months' severance pay to her friend. The two salvaged their relationship.
Pam Lassiter, a consultant in Boston and author of The New Job Security: The 5 Best Strategies for Taking Control of Your Career, also likes that strategy. "Money heals all wounds," she says. For an underperforming friend-employee, you can offer a reduced work schedule for the same pay, to then lead to a phase-out.
Like Wakeman, Eileen Wolkstein, a veteran New York City career coach, says she's seen too many situations where mixing friendship with work creates a toxic brew. "It's not a good idea," she insists. "The potential risk is not worth the gain. It's messy, messy, messy."
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