When I first launched my company years ago, it seemed like a natural thing to hire my friend when I needed extra help. I was touring like crazy, zigzagging across the U.S. and even spending a few weeks in Europe performing. I had my organic skincare line, which at that time was more like an expensive hobby, and I needed someone to help me out while I was gone.
My friend needed a little extra income and I needed help. It seemed so perfect!
The problem was that suddenly, we found ourselves in the awkward boss/employee relationship. She didn’t like it, and I felt awkward about it. If things didn’t get done properly, I wasn’t able to express or communicate how to do it without feeling uncomfortable.
When I came home to New York City for the summer, I slowly began to realize that it was not a good fit at all. In hindsight, I know to nip it in the bud, but back then, I felt stuck. I just couldn’t let her go because of so many reasons. She and her husband were such good friends of ours; they would come over for our dinner parties, and we were entertwined among other mutual friends. If I let her go, things would get even more awkward for not only me but my husband, too!
Here’s what I learned. The minute things don’t feel right, deal with it immediately. Come up with a few solutions and try them all out. If the solutions don’t work, then don’t delude yourself: it’s just not the right fit. You must have that tough conversation even if it is a friend. The question to ask yourself is: Would I hire this person if s/he were a normal applicant for this job?
And even if it’s your best friend, always, always, always draw up agreements! Before you enter into any business dealings, make sure things are crystal clear IN WRITING.
There are times when as a boss, you have to get tough and ask your employees to reach standards that you have set. This can be sticky if that employee is your friend, so you will have to decide if you do want to hire friends at all.
What happened to that friend? The tension became too much and we eventually had to part ways. But I learned a very important lesson: Even with good friends, always draw up that crucial agreement and put expectations clearly in writing.
Your “Should I hire this friend?” Checklist:
1. Would I hire this friend if she were a normal applicant for this job?
2. Do I like the way this friend handles stressful situations? Is she committed to healthy communication? Does she accept personal responsibility in her personal relationships?
3. Do I like the way I handle stressful situations? Am I committed to healthy communication? Do I accept personal responsibility in my relationships?
4. Do I have an agreement written with crystal-clear expectations laid out? Does this agreement address every worst-case scenario I can think of?