Friends & Family – Working Together

So you own a business.  Now you’ve grown to a point where you might want to hire or outsource some parts of your business.  And oh, look – Bill’s an Accountant.  You like Bill. He’s been a friend for the last 5 years.  Maybe you should hire Bill…

Maybe not.

The Pro’s

  • Culture fit.  Sure, people are different in a professional vs social situation; but you have a good idea of his personality already.  And theoretically you socialise well together already, so he should fit your culture (if you brought your own personal values into the business that is).
  • Less ‘search’ time required – hiring someone new always involves a level of ‘searching’.  This way you cut that out.
  • 3rd party references might already be something you have – friends of friends, your sister, etc.
  • Backdoor access. Sometimes, some of the most talented people out there are happy with their current jobs / workload.  However, as a friend you might be able to drag them out of their comfort zone to work for you.

The Con’s

  • Social =/= Professional.  Just because he might be a stand-up guy in a social setting does not always translate to a professional setting
  • No skill assessment.  As you know them on a social level only, you haven’t assessed them on their actual workplace skills.
  • Future awkwardness.  What if you have to fire them? This could easily ruin your non-professional relationship.
  • Fraud.  A lot of fraud happens because we apply different standards for ‘friends’ compared to employees.  Things we would jump down an employees throat for, we might allow in a friend, which can create situations when fraudulent activity could easily take place.
  • Favoritism.  This is a dangerous one, especially if your friend is mildly more competent than your other employees.  You can start favoring them significantly more than other employees, over and above their actual skills because of this.

So, what should you do?

Hire them the same way you’d hire a total stranger.  Ask for references.  Get their resume (and check it over!).  Do an interview.  Treat them as if they are any other potential employee.  This not only sets the tone of your professional relationship, it also ensures that you have done as much as possible to ensure that they are the right people for the job.

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