When your friend becomes your colleague
We’ve all been tempted to recommend a friend for a job with the company we work for and they become a colleague. Sometimes it’s a great fit, sometimes not so much. Either way, you feel obligated to help the friend out. The question is: is it a good idea to work with friends?
Maybe you’re struggling a bit with the pros and cons of whether a not you should recommend your friend for the job. Perhaps a friend has recently started working with you and you’re looking for possible pitfalls. Either way, here’s a comprehensive look at all the ways working with friends is fantastic, and not so fantastic.
There are some very good reasons to work with friends. First and foremost: they’re your friend!
Work is More Enjoyable
Most people can’t wait for work to finish so they can go meet their friends. Having a friend work with you means the wait is over. Who doesn’t love hanging out with their friends all day? Having your best friend available for breaks and lunch isn’t just a perk for you – it’s a perk for your boss. Studies have shown that having friends in the workplace increases productivity and morale.
Coworkers Are Loyal
We all need friends at work. Not just in the friendship way, but in the allies-when-dealing-with-management way. Having a friend as a coworker means someone will always have your back. You’ve got someone you can trust in your corner instantly.
Having a friend at work can also protect you from gossip. People are less likely to talk about you behind your back if they think one of your friends is listening.
You Know How to Communicate
Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time talking with your friends. Naturally, when you start to work with them, you’re not going to worry about what you’re saying is hurting their feelings, or how to get your point across. You’ve had a lot of practice learning how to talk to each other, so you don’t need to think too hard about what you’re going to say next.
Allows You to Vent with Understanding
One of the best perks about working with a friend is the ability to vent about work. First, they’re going to be able to relate, because they work for the same company. Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people outside of work exactly what you’re talking about. With your friend, they get it.
Secondly, you can trust them. They’re not going to take what you can say and blab it to the bosses. Trusting coworkers is a big issue, and with a friend, you have none of these concerns.
The beauty of working with a friend is that you’ll be able to solicit real feedback. Hopefully, they’ll be honest with you and let you know exactly what you need. Sometimes coworkers can walk on eggshells when giving feedback because they don’t know how you’ll take it – they don’t know you. Your friend already knows this, and may be able to give you the blunt criticism you need to move the project forward. This is also a con, which you’ll see in the next section.
One of You Might get Promoted
Chances are now double that one of you will get a promotion. After all, there are two of you. This is also a con. Let’s deal with the good stuff first though
There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a friend succeed. Plus, if they become your boss, you already know the new boss likes you and you’ll be able to work together. Sure, this is the rose-colored look, but we are talking about the pros right now.
Believe it or not, there are some major negatives to working with your friends. Friendships often dissolve over the tiniest of arguments. It’s important you learn how to rectify these issues before they become too massive.
Working with a friend may be all fun and games, but it’s called “work” for a reason. There’s a tendency to be a little too loose with words around friends. You can also be a little too loose with time on breaks and deadlines if other coworkers are as lenient as you. This can drive your boss mad. The last thing they want is an unprofessional workplace, and it could mean one of you has to go.
Resentment from Others
You have a friend at work. You’re in a club. Other people are outside this club. This can cause jealousy and lead to resentment. You could actually make more enemies at work by adding a friend.
Once your friend starts at work, you’ll need to be really mindful of how you treat others. Stay inclusive. You don’t want to create opposition.
They Know Too Much
That time you had a little too much rum at the party? Yeah, they know that. And they know what happened next. Keep in mind that all your memories and experiences with this friend are now coming into the workplace. You’ll want to make sure the friend knows the boundaries.
If you’re professional at work, and extremely goofy outside of work, you’ll want to make sure these two lives don’t mix. Your friend could make you look really bad if various details you’ve kept to yourself come to life. They may not be doing it on purpose, but the truth can come out all the same.
This was in the pros section, but here’s the con: your friend may not want to hurt your feelings. They may value the friendship so much; they’ll sugarcoat the truth. This can be very bad. You need to know when your work needs improvement. If you’re constantly doing subpar work that your friend is telling you is brilliant, it could hold you back.
One of you may be more ambitious than the other person. There’s nothing wrong with this, except when you are forced to compete with each other. Your friend could become that person at the office you’re always competing with to get the best assignments (and gain valuable work experience to list and reveal the formula of a perfect resume), the pay raise, the time off or to be the office favorite for the boss.
This conflict can pit you against your best friend day in, and day out. It’s really hard to separate this work rivalry outside of the office. The first step to reach your career goals may involve doing some things you won’t be proud of later.
One of You Might get Promoted
This pro turns into a con because you’re no longer co-workers. One of you is in charge of the other. In your friendship, things may have been equal, or perhaps you were even the leader of your group, but now, they have all the power.
You may resent them for this for no reason. Worse, you may think they don’t know what they’re talking about and speaking up could mean the end of the friendship.
Lastly, you need a work-life balance. If your best friend is working with you, you may find that work follows you to dinner, to the movie theatre, and to the mall on weekends.
You need to decompress from work, and constantly hanging around with co-workers means you’ll see the same faces and have the same conversations every day. Usually, you could get together with friends outside of work and talk about different experiences – now your daytime experiences are very similar if not the same.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Just scroll back up and read the pros section again. Working with a friend doesn’t need to be a disaster, just be aware of the pitfalls.
Elaina Meiser is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about everything worth knowing in the digital age. She also strives to share her own perspective about personal and professional development. You can follow her on Twitter @ElainaMeiser.