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Is Your Friend Your Employee? Avoiding Pitfalls

Jun 19, 2008
Sometimes a challenging situation arises when you are promoted and find that your friend is one of your subordinates.

Here are few quick tips for managing your friends at the workplace:

Setting Ground Rules

In a situation where you are promoted above your friend, you will have to set certain ground rules right from the beginning. You will have to explain very plainly and privately that business is still business. There has to be a certain professional decorum in relation to your positions in the organization.

It should be made clear that your friend is still required to follow the rules and regulations just as other colleagues are. Ensure that you remain impartial, despite the friendship.


In case where a friend is one of your subordinates, other employees may naturally feel that favoritism exists towards the friend. You should treat your friend on par with others, thus gaining the trust of other employees. This is especially true when appraisals and evaluations are being carried out.

You have to be perfectly professional in these evaluations; any raises or promotions should be entirely dependent on the job performance, and not friendship. This will instill a respect for you among the other employees.

Be ready to give and take your share criticism about work-related issues.

Associate with Everyone

During lunch or other breaks, avoid taking breaks with just your friends. Other members of the group should also be taken along. The same holds true during the office parties, picnics or other functions.

During meetings, you will have to pay special attention to seating arrangements. Ensure that you are able to associate with all of your colleagues.

Avoid Sharing Information on Business and Others

It is important that confidential business information is not shared with your friends. It is a violation of trust and ethics of the business. Even in cases where you have made friends at your place of work, it is better not to discuss other employees with them.

There is a probability that some information may be shared unintentionally, which could be the cause of fresh problems. Do not air negative feelings about other colleagues, your boss or your clients. Keep your friend's secrets to yourself unless you feel that they may harm the business or anyone else.

Never discuss any job-related issues outside the workplace.

No Family Secrets

It is equally necessary that you do not share information that may jeopardize interests of someone in your family. You, your family or your friend should not be faced with an awkward situation because of any information that is shared.

Productivity Matters

Last but not least - ensure that your friendship does not affect your productivity. A friendship should not be a distracting factor in the workplace.

Balancing friendships at the workplace is a trying task, but can be achieved. Having friends at work is as critical as working in a friendly environment - both are beneficial to organizational performance.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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