The perils of employing friends!
We love our friends. They help, support and guide us through life’s challenges and opportunities and are always there for us, no matter what.
In fact I am not sure what we would do without them, unless of course we invite them to become involved in defining the strategic direction of our business. Because as we know friends may be many things, but impartial they are not!
When you own a business, you're the boss. And how you run your business is really down to you. So if you want to bring in an outside consultant to help you manage areas of the business then that’s ok. And if you don’t agree with them or are not happy with how the relationship is progressing, then it’s perfectly acceptable for you to sit down and a conversation with them and the relationship can either improve or end as a result. But if you have engaged the services of a friend and they offer unwanted advice or aren’t pulling their weight, it’s more difficult to deal with, without the fear of offending them and jeopardising things in the future.
Involving people who are close to you and whose talents you trust can seem like an ideal scenario if you’re starting a company or looking to develop and drive forward an established business of any size. As long as the person is a great fit, has the right skills and experience and the price is right, they will be able to make a positive contribution to your business.
Striking the right balance
But sometimes it’s not easy to be objective about our friends and we need to be if we are going to trust them with our business success. In this instance it’s important to be honest about their failings as it is about their attributes. And because you might need to talk tough at various times, you need to know that they will take it in the spirit of which it is meant. But I think that single most difficult thing with working with someone who knows you so well is to strike the right balance between your relationship both inside and outside of the workplace.
Of course there is not right or wrong answer, but it’s important to realise that hiring friends can be a great way to bolster your company’s resources and help make you more competitive, but it can also be a major mistake that takes time, effort and emotional energy to undo and move beyond. But with any decisions that you take as a business owner, you owe it to yourself and your friend to anticipate the worse-case scenario and consider the reasoning, benefits and alternatives. Only then can you decide if it's a risk worth taking, and if you can live with the possible consequences. But I think the best advice I can give is the following.
“Remember, even when there are no strings attached, there are always strings attached.”
Whatever you decide, keep your eyes open and your wits about you. And if something doesn't feel right, then that's usually because something isn't right!