I've asked questions of you a couple of times in the past, and I've appreciated your solid advice.
As a bit of an update relevant to my next question, I left the family business(which was winding down to a close) for what was supposed to be my dream job. Six months of my life condensed into a few sentences, I quickly tired of the corporate grind despite a very nice paycheck. My folks decided to continue the business and invited me back with a hefty raise(not what I was making at the new company but pretty close). My boss countered by asking me to work part-time, so I have been working both jobs for about the past month. 50-60 hour weeks, up to 12-14 hours a day. Both the family business and department I work in at the 'new' company are understaffed, and I'm not sure if my corporate boss wants to let me go even after they find someone to take my position.
My responsibilities at the family business have also increased drastically. I was pretty much a clerk for the entirety of the time I was working there before(from my high school years until recently). Now I find myself in charge of the entire show if my folks aren't there, making me the de facto store manager over several employees. I'm finding myself learning skills such as handling delicate situations and leading others, which I think is a great change of pace. However, the time has come where we need extra help.
A close friend (and fellow fur) approached me a little while ago asking if we were hiring. I told him I would go to bat for him and talked with my folks. Despite his age (early 20s), he has demonstrated to me he is quite mature, well spoken, intelligent, and an overall good person. He also manages his personal life very well. While hesitant at the idea of hiring a personal friend, my folks interviewed him a few days ago and hired him on the spot. He starts in a couple of weeks.
This isn't the first time I have worked here with a close friend. However, this is the first time I have worked with a friend as more or less their boss. We have discussed this at length, and he doesn't feel as if things will impact our friendship.
My question, however, is this. How do I juggle the hats of being a good friend and an effective manager? I've been around my folks for so long that I've known the ropes of managing without being a jerk for some time, and I've also been pulling pages from Dale Carnegie's classic book 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' especially the mantra to always encourage and never criticize. Are there any tips to make this professional and personal relationship work out?
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Welcome Back, Heisenwolf,
Glad my earlier advice helped you, and also proud of your for being so successful. I would, though, caution you on overworking yourself. Keeping up that schedule can really burn a person out, so try to make some time for yourself to unwind.
But that’s not what your letter is about. Papabear is well familiar with the problem of working with friends. Back in Michigan, I went into a business where I was one of the bosses and my partner hired a bunch of his friends and people he knew from the business. Long story short, although we all worked very hard, the business went under. There were a lot of hard feelings and people pointing fingers, the result being that none of those people are my friends anymore.
Working with friends (and family) can really put a strain on a relationship. When it comes to your friend working for you, perhaps you could think of what you and your family do to get along. You all work together and yet you are not at each other’s throats; it sounds like you get along fine. What would you chalk that up to? Similar strategies could be used when relating to your friend.
My other piece of advice would be to keep your work and your friendship absolutely separate from each other (my partner and I made the mistake of not doing this). After you leave your business for the day and, say, go to a restaurant and share dinner with your friend, do not discuss business at all. You guys were friends before you worked together, so talk about other things that you share—furry stuff springs to mind. And if your friend starts to bring up work, interrupt him and say, “Well, if you want to discuss that, let’s do it in the office in the morning.” Keep work at the workplace.
If, while at work, you have a situation in which you have to be the boss and correct the behavior of your friend, always do so constructively. Make sure to point out what he is doing right as well as what he did wrong. Remember to avoid the following:
1. Don’t reprimand him in front of other people.
2. Don’t attack him on a personal level. This is about business, not personalities.
3. Don’t threaten him (e.g., “If this keeps up, I may have to fire you.”)
A good boss is involved in helping his employees grow and improve. Be a coach, and follow up to see how things are going.
Of course, if your friend becomes a model employee and things are going well with the business, you should have no worries at all. But even in that case, I would still keep work and social time separate.
Hope that helps! And don’t work too hard!
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