5 tips on how to work with your friends
The fascinating cases of famous friendships gone awry have been well-documented. One only needs to look at Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin’s falling out, or Bill Gates and Steve Jobs’s strange love-hate relationship. While working with your friends may seem like all fun and games, it can also lead to complications when uncomfortable professional situations arise. If your close friends are to become your colleagues, here are a few things to take note of:
- Let go of that ego: Unfortunately, working together means that you can no longer expect your camaraderie to extend to business matters. If your friend happens to be your direct boss, expect to receive feedback, instructions, and criticism for your work. Unless you want to jeopardise your working relationship and possibly your friendship, do not take it personally. Try to see things from their viewpoint, as they are only doing what is best for the business.
- Don’t forget to communicate: If you’ve been friends for a long time, you may have taken the differences in each other's communication styles for granted. This might lead to workplace conflicts and arguments, as you would assume that the other person automatically knows what you’re thinking without even communicating it to them beforehand. Before a tiny quarrel snowballs into a bitter battle, talk things out. Make it a point to keep each other updated on all professional developments.
- Make sure it is “business as usual”: If you directly report to a good friend, you may be tempted to take your working relationship for granted by slacking off and not giving your best simply because you feel like you can get away with it. You may even begin to break office rules, such as coming in later than expected or not adhering to deadlines because you assume you’ll automatically receive leniency. Don’t do this – if you find yourself slipping into any of these mindsets, remind yourself that this is your job, that you are a professional, and that you need to act like one.
- Do not stick to each other: Unlike other colleagues, there is no need to make the extra effort of getting to know your friend. Conversations will already come easy to you and if you’re introverted, it’ll likely be tempting – and easy! – to stick with your friend. However, this is not high school where you can stick to your clique. You can always hang out exclusively with your friends after work, so be sure to socialise with everyone else and do your best to get to know them, too.
- Negotiate an exit strategy: If you happen to be the one in the supervisory position, a time might come when your friend will either resign from their job. You might also find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you have to relieve them of their responsibilities. Discussions about such unfavourable events should be had prior to the commencement of your time working together so that you will not be forced to choose between your friendship and your career.