Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / MAR. 25, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Cope With Working for a Friend

Working for a friend can be an awesome idea but it can also entail dreadful scenarios that can lead to a nightmare you wish you never had. If you plan ahead, consider possible pitfalls, and keep professional matters apart from private life situations, you can have a better chance of thriving in this work situation.

On the other hand, if you go in blindly and overlook potential trouble spots or fail to assess your friendship history and how well you get on with him; you risk putting a strain on your friendship.

Here are some useful tips to help you maintain a smooth flow of work when your boss happens to be a friend of yours.  

#1 Evaluate Your History With Your Friend

One of your greatest weapons is that you know your friend and you can easily predict how he will act as a boss. Use this knowledge to determine whether your relationship could overcome a professional disagreement or clash. On top of this, use your previous experience with your friend to figure out how he reacted in several situations. Was he dogmatic when you presented him an alternative plan and only sees things his way? Was he holding grudges when you objected to an idea of his or was he able to negotiate with you? As a principle, if your relationship has never been tested, perhaps it may not be wise to start now. But if you know you can argue like cats and dogs and still meet each other halfway then it’s possibly worth the risk.

#2 Be Clear About Your job Description

You might have a plus in that your friend may favour hiring  you because he assumes you can carry out several tasks. In that case, you have to ask yourself and answer honestly: Am I a good match for the job I am given? Make sure you have a clear view of what the job description includes, your rights and responsibilities, and how you can help accomplish the goals of the company. If you think that you can’t solve the problems of the company, don’t accept the job.

Avoid misunderstandings by asking your friend to provide you with a written job description which will be your road map for the things you are hired to do. Doing this means there is no room for questions later.

#3 Separate Your Work Relationship From Your Personal Friendship

Try to remain professional in the workplace and when outside of work avoid talking about work-related issues. You should also refrain from gossiping or ‘dishing the dirt’ about other colleagues. By the same token, don’t try to raise your status among your coworkers by revealing personal information about your boss. Never use your relationship as a means to elevate your standing and set yourself apart from your colleagues, showing that you are privileged. Remember that you are all on equal ground and that abusing your friendship may result in ultimately creating resentment from your peers and your boss.

#4 Respect Each Other’s Role

Your friend is inevitably in a higher position than you but the key to keep a harmonious relationship is to respect your friend’s authority and assigned tasks. If you want to ask your friend a favour it is fine, but bear in mind his duties and never attempt to exploit him by abusing his willingness to lend a hand, especially if your request is unrelated to his work. Remain task-oriented and work-focused and do not publicly challenge him or ask for special treatment. Realise the impact of your words and actions may have on your friend.

#5 Don’t be Exclusive

It is natural to relate to people who share similar traits with us, but this doesn’t always work for us. The workplace offers an abundance of opportunities to connect with people who are different from us and have the potential to influence us positively and help us develop. If you and your friend or small group of friends give the impression that you’re cliquey, you will forgo the benefits of making new, diverse friends. Besides this, you run the risk of unconsciously creating a hostile working environment. So keep your friend close but keep an open relationship with other coworkers as well.

 All in all, having a personal relationship with your boss means that work matters will likely have a personal element. This situation in turn can complicate things in the workplace, so you have to act diplomatically.  First of all, make a well-informed decision about whether you are able to manage this relationship, make sure you are a suitable candidate so that you don’t disappoint your boss, keep work and private life apart and try to associate with other colleagues who can help you grow. 

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