Live and Lead For Impact Podcast with Kirsten E Ross

EP103: Hiring a Friend? Be Real About Your Reasons!

DTD Episode 103 Show Notes
Hiring a Friend? Be Real About Your Reasons!

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Download Episode 103 Show Notes

Recently I was working with a client and, as is often the case, they began sharing about a challenge with an employee.  The employee was missing deadlines and it was becoming a problem.  We talked through some strategies and then…….there it was………

“I feel bad.  He’s my friend.”

Hiring friends is not a complete no – no.  I have seen it work out well.   But, more often than not, the situation goes awry.  And, as is often the case it usually boils down to unrealistic expectations or lack of communication.

You love them as a friend and certainly don’t want business to ruin a great relationship.

So, how do you avoid the feelings of regret and frustration?

First, be clear in your own mind what your reasons are for hiring them and then treat the situation accordingly.

Is the job strictly a favor to them?  Perhaps their skills and abilities aren’t even aligned with your business needs.  You know they need the job and you have the ability to help them out.  If this is the case be real in your own mind set your expectations accordingly.  You knew he wasn’t Accountant material when you hired him in so don’t feel frustrated when he can’t keep an Excel spreadsheet straight.

Often I’ll hear a client lament about the friend who’s not fulfilling their role well.  The frustration is welling and I’ll ask, “did they have the skills you needed for that position?”

Don’t set yourself up for resentment and frustration.  If you’re hiring them as a favor minimize the negative impact they can make and find something at least semi-productive they can do but don’t expect to get much for your money.  You’ve made the hire for their benefit not yours.

Do have a conversation up front.   Share that you want to help them but that there are minimum expectations they must follow like showing up for work and following through on basic work assignments.

Perhaps they needed a job and you’ve hired them in the hopes of gaining some benefit for the business even though they aren’t a complete fit.  You plan to create a win-win over time.  Be real about this as well and make a corresponding plan.  Talk about it up front.  Indicate your desire to help them out and acknowledge that they lack some of the required skills.  Create a process for teaching them what they need to know so that over time they can be fully successful.  Then, in your mind, prep yourself for the time required to maneuver that learning curve!

In that initial conversation also communicate about what will happen if they aren’t able to gain the required skills. Do you have an alternate spot for them or would you have to part ways professionally?   You are much more likely to keep a personal relationship in tact after a professional break up if you talk about it while all is good.

Maybe you’re in that rare position where your great friend had the exact personality, skill and experience to fill a needed role in your organization.  Great!  They’ve got what it takes.  Your communication in this scenario will focus on clear expectations about a separation of the personal and professional relationship and the specific expectations of the job.  You don’t want a sense of entitlement or a blurring of relationship lines to stand in the way of their success.

So, if you feel so inclined, yes, hire your friend.  Just be clear about your reasons and communicate ahead to avoid the challenges that can do damage to a valued relationship.

Click To Apply For Your Very Own FREE Leadership Breakthrough Session With Kirsten!

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  1. Gain Clarityabout what you sell, how it should feel and why do you do what you do?
    2. Generate Actions Aligned with Business Objectives
    3. Empower Your Team to take Targeted Actionwith Tenacity
    4. Identify and Remove Barriers to Team Productivity
    5. Drive Focused Employee Correction Conversations
    6. Hire Well
    7. Establish Harmony and Productivity

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EP33: I Hired My Friend and It’s Not Working Out! Now What?

Shift Your Mindset to Create
Guilt-Free Correction Conversations

Click to download the Show Notes for Defeat YOUR Drama Podcast Episode 33

DefeatYourDramaIf you’d like me to share customized strategies for your drama situation go to my website You can type or record your message. Use your real name or an alias for anonymity. Note that recorded or written messages may be used on the podcast.

Linda from Florida wrote in:

One of my really good friends had been struggling to find a job. I had a position open up and wanted to help her out so I hired her. It’s turned into a nightmare! Whenever I ask her to do anything she just kind of chuckles. If I tell her she needs to get more work done she gets defensive. She’s treating her co-workers terribly. She throws our friendship in their faces and acts like she’s better than them because she’s great friends with the boss. She thinks she’s all powerful and can do whatever she wants.   Meanwhile my boss is on me to fix this situation ASAP! He wants me to fire her. I don’t want to hurt our friendship but I love my job and know she can’t keep doing what she’s doing. Help!

Linda, so sorry to hear about your struggles. Let’s get you some customized solutions.

As always, In the Defeat Your Drama segments, I will provide solutions based on the information provided. I will obviously not have full details so will provide customized strategies based on what you share. Always consider your own specific circumstances before taking any action. These are suggestions not guarantees.

#1 Have a Conversation about Separating Work and Friendship

You don’t say whether you had a conversation about separating work and friendship already. Often I find that my clients don’t up front because they assume that their friend will just know to respect them at work. They believe that they won’t take advantage of the relationship. And then, as you are experiencing, they are shocked and have clean up to do.

If you did have the conversation ahead of time she obviously didn’t take it to heart. So, either way, it is time! You must pull her into a private meeting and explain that you love her as a friend but that work and friendship are separate. As a leader you cannot give her preferential treatment. And she must meet the expectations of the job to continue working there. Explain how disruptive it is to the entire team for her to be less productive. It hurts morale when her co-workers feel that she is getting special treatment and they are the ones who pick up the slack for her.

Explain how important your job is to you and that part of being successful as a leader is creating a team that works well together.   Let her know that your boss is on you to correct the situation and that you must make things better one way or another.

Reiterate your desire for her to continue working there as a successful member of the team. Also let her know that you will have to follow through with discipline just like you would with any employee if she doesn’t start performing the way you need her to. Tell her it would not be pleasant for you but at work the job comes first.

#2 Communicate Clear Expectation:

Describe and document exactly what she must do to be successful in her position. Offer your support. Does she need any additional training or other assistance? Let her know that the responsibility is hers to make the right choices. Reiterate that you want her to be successful, you want her to continue working with you.

Also emphasize that she must be respectful of her co-workers.   She cannot act like she gets preferential treatment because of the relationship she has with you. Remind her that you will treat her like the rest of the team at work.

#3 Create a Phrase

If this follows the pattern I’ve seen many times in the past you will need to keep reminding her that friendship and work are separate. She may continue to push for preferential treatment and act wounded when you don’t give it. Rather than re-hashing the entire conversation over and over I recommend coming up with a short phrase that means the entire conversation.   It’s a really effective way to communicate a long stream of information in a few seconds.   At the end of your reset conversation you can come up with a phrase together. Often my clients will use something light or funny to help bring levity to what might otherwise become a stressful moment. I once had two clients, as a for instance, use the phrase, “Your beating your drum.” It was an inside joke that made them laugh. So, instead of rehashing a frustrating conversation they had a quick chuckle, each got the meaning and moved on.

#4 Meet with the Team

You aren’t hiding the fact that you have a friendship with this employee. Everyone knows. And currently they believe that she gets preferential treatment as a result of that relationship. Have a team meeting and just say what’s on everyone’s mind. You have a friendship outside of work. And then commit to them to treat her no differently. Affirm that you will keep the relationship and work separate.

#5 Give her the Freedom to Choose

Unfortunately, you can’t dictate the outcome of this situation. She gets to choose how she reacts. She can hear you, understand your predicament and choose to improve her performance or she can decide to use a stay stuck strategy that keeps her behaving poorly and ultimately losing her job. The reality is, she may not own up to her role in the negative outcome if that happens. She may choose to blame you. People have an amazing ability to skew their perspectives to serve them.

And, there may be a reason that she was having difficulty finding work.

If she doesn’t follow through as she must you will have to do what is difficult. If she is wiling to use your friendship as a way to skate through a job she may not have been the friend you thought she was. Don’t let her put your job in jeopardy over her bad choices. She may be mad at you for a bit or the relationship may be different forever. Take this as a lesson learned.

My hope is that she will make the right choice and hears you and respects your wishes!

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