I’m going to admit to something that I should probably keep to myself. I know I may be subject to judging eyes, but I’ve come to terms with my guilty pleasures and can take any judgment thrown my way. That’s right, I watch MTV’s The City.
Judge away, but during my weekly viewing I’ve come to realize that the girls on The City deal with very common workplace issues. Hear me out on this. The other week it occurred to me that Whitney and Roxy (two central characters) are in a situation I have often found myself trying to negotiate; how to work with friends.
When looking for work, friends and family are key contacts to tap for employment and networking opportunities. Most jobs I have secured have come by way of a friendly contact. My boss, in most cases, has been once or twice removed from the actual contact, but there have been times that I’ve worked closely with a good friend, have made a good friend at the workplace, or have been managed by a friend.
Working with friends hasn’t always been easy. On the onset it seems a perfect idea, but in practice it can definitely be tricky and straining on your relationship. Let’s face it, expectations are different when working with or for a friend. Even applying for the same position can create tension.
I have been in positions were I’ve been offered a job that I know a friend was keen on and vice-versa. I have also been turned down for promotions in favour of friends, and I have been hired for positions that report to friends. While there is a prevailing notion that because we are friends we will work well together, in practice the opposite is often the case.
When working with or for friends it’s important to enter a professional relationship with the understanding that it will possibly take a toll on your friendship. Friendship and working relationships are different, and as much as possible, they need to be kept separate.
Here are some tips on how to add a working relationship to an existing friendship:
1. Define your own goals and path: this will help distinguish your career aspirations from those of a friend, and help to alleviate unwanted competition.
2. Know your strengths and weaknesses: You and your friend have different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what these are will help you understand opportunities lost to a friend or vice-versa. An employer may be looking for your friend’s strengths. This will give you a better understanding and further your ability to support your friend gained opportunities and perhaps your missed opportunity.
3. Communicate: If you feel like there is tension or professional competition brewing, sit down and work it out.
4. Support: Sometimes this means swallowing your pride, but in the long run showing support will help you maintain a lasting friendship.
5. Enact a “no working with friends” policy: If working together really isn’t working, perhaps it’s time to layout some boundaries and find a new position.
Have you had difficulty working with a friend? How did you negotiate adding a working relationship to your friendship?