Hiring friends is a dangerous proposition, but one that many business owners and managers still dive into without understanding all of the risks.
There are many reasons why people consider hiring friends. Maybe someone desperately needs a job, and they appeal to their influential friends for help. Perhaps a manager is in urgent need of manpower, and a good friend just so happens to be available. Or the manager may even think it would be fun to have a friend around. After all, if they’re great company at the bar or at the barbecue, they’d be just as great at the water cooler, right?
I’ve encountered many situations where hiring a friend or family member has strained—and even outright ruined—relationships on both on a personal and professional level. Friends may agree to stay professional at the onset of a job, but this is a hard promise to keep. Here’s why:
Skills May Not Match
Employees are normally hired after undergoing interviews and some skill testing. But it’s very tempting to relax the hiring standards or skip the interview entirely when your friend is the candidate. It’s so easy to think, “I know this person, and I know what they can do.” But you really don’t.
You may know where your friend has worked and what he’s studied in school, but until you’ve actually worked with him, you have no idea what he can actually do. He may not be as good as he says he is. You may end up hiring someone totally unsuited for the position.
Great Friends Don’t Equal Great Employees
Being great to hang around with isn’t the same thing as being a great employee. They are two unique settings with separate modes of behavior. I know people with whom I have been friends for years, but would refuse to hire because of their work habits or attitudes. In a social situation, it’s easy to overlook and forgive faults as a quirk of personality. But in an office environment, you’ll have to face these faults head on—which will cause friction between you and your friend. An example close to home is my cousin asking to join my logo design company. He is not a great designer and so I refused!
Problems with Authority
As friends, you would stand on an equal footing with each other. Hiring a friend changes this dynamic, and places you at a higher position. But one day he might question your decisions, or grow irritated at your efforts to manage him. He might stop seeing you as an authority figure and become rebellious.
Keep in mind that the reverse can happen, as well. You might resent a promotion that places your friend above you, reasoning that it was you who got him the job in the first place. You may both end up envying each other’s status and success, and such things are poison to a friendship.
You’re Losing Your Support Group
Remember when you used to vent about your bad day to one friend in particular because they alone could understand what you were talking about? That can’t happen anymore, because now they’re the source of your problems. And even if there aren’t any problems, you still won’t be able to speak freely. Managers are privy to certain information that cannot be shared with the rank-and-file. Now you’ll have to find another friend with whom it is safe to discuss management issues.
Do you have any thoughts on hiring friends? Share them in the comments below!