Author Topic: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?  (Read 4339 times)

fuzzed

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Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« on: July 14, 2014, 07:48:55 AM »
A bit of background, I have spent the last seven years working for very large corporations and wanted to get back into a much smaller company.   Last year, we investigated moving to a different province, had interviews, received offers, looked at homes.  Ultimately, we decided we were better off where we were financially.  We are about 8 years from being able to comfortably retire.  One of the many things we learned on that adventure, was what I really want from a job. 

I have finally found a new opportunity, which really hits on all of the boxes of what I am looking for:  Flexible work place, small company, chance to work with some really intelligent people, growing/booming industry/technology, chance to make a difference and help build a company. 

The only concern I have about the new job, is a friend I had for over twenty years is the CEO.  He had approached me about joining him for a couple of years now, but the timing was not right.  The company is now at a size/maturity where they are stable and can really benefit from my skills.   

My main concern is the relationship with my friend.  I would not be directly reporting to him, and after our initial discussions, he disclosed a potential conflict of interest and removed himself from the hiring process.   Over the past month or so it has progressed to the point of an offer being presented.   

I mentioned my concerns to my friend, and he agreed he was concerned as well.  As he said I would not be reporting directly to him, but ultimately he would be responsible.  He felt we are both professional enough that we could separate the business/personal aspects.

So, the question, is this a bad idea? Along the same lines as lending/borrowing money to friends?

Does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?  Is it a bad idea?

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2014, 07:57:29 AM »
I had a very bad experience doing so.

The problems are that work issues will come home and will impact your friendship.

As CEO, he will have to make decisions which impact you. For example, a layoff.
Would you be able to have the same relationship after that?


soccerluvof4

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2014, 07:59:37 AM »
I have owned a company now for 22 years and have hired both friends and relatives. The conversation went pretty much the way yours did. In probably 20-30 hiring of such nature you could probably draw a line down the middle.  I have had to fire a few and are friends to this day but because they new they were wrong but i also have had some friends that I probably will never talk to again and several that have done well.  I was always good at keeping business and friendship separate will he be? will you be? Maybe you don't know the answer but if you know you can do the Job and excel I doubt it would be much of an issue. If it checks all your boxes go for it but understand it could cost you a friend but doubtful if you end up making him/company money or are a good hire!

fuzzed

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2014, 08:03:15 AM »
For example, a layoff.
Would you be able to have the same relationship after that?

That is a very good point.   

A layoff ideally with some sort of notice would be manageable.  I work in a field that lends itself well to contracting and that would give me a push to finally make that jump I suppose.

fuzzed

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2014, 08:11:11 AM »
I have owned a company now for 22 years and have hired both friends and relatives. The conversation went pretty much the way yours did. In probably 20-30 hiring of such nature you could probably draw a line down the middle.  I have had to fire a few and are friends to this day but because they new they were wrong but i also have had some friends that I probably will never talk to again and several that have done well.  I was always good at keeping business and friendship separate will he be? will you be? Maybe you don't know the answer but if you know you can do the Job and excel I doubt it would be much of an issue. If it checks all your boxes go for it but understand it could cost you a friend but doubtful if you end up making him/company money or are a good hire!

Great to hear a reply from the doing the hiring point of view.   The job is what I do every day, so I am very confident I can step in and make an immediate impact.  They do not  have anyone who is skilled/experienced in the role presently, and they know they need help.   

Cpa Cat

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2014, 08:27:39 AM »
We had a company and hired several friends to work for us. Out of the 10 or so friends that we hired, only one soured.

He had to be fired because he was a very bad employee and a general liability to us due to his sexual harassment of female employees. :p Odd though it may sound, my husband actually did try to maintain a friendship after this, but the former employee had a pretty big chip on his shoulder about being fired, and it didn't work out.

Of the nine or so others, 4 stayed with the company and lasted 10+ years, remaining there even after we sold the company. A few used it for temporary employment during what would otherwise have been periods of unemployment, and they left when other opportunities arose. And a couple more used it as a springboard to other things in their overall careers.

We have a good relationship with all of of our former employers/current friends - other than that one guy. Other than him, we only had a "problem" with one other. That person was generally pretty incompetent and when we discussed it with him, he agreed that he was unsuited to the job and didn't really like it. He found another job and moved on - there were no hard feelings.

So even though conventional wisdom says not to work for your friends, I think you'll find that most adults are perfectly capable of working together in a mature, professional way.

fuzzed

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2014, 08:35:14 AM »
He had to be fired because he was a very bad employee and a general liability to us due to his sexual harassment of female employees. :p Odd though it may sound, my husband actually did try to maintain a friendship after this, but the former employee had a pretty big chip on his shoulder about being fired, and it didn't work out.

WOW.  That must have been awkward to say the least.

Thank you for your feedback.

Noodle

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2014, 10:12:33 AM »
I think it depends on SO much. How close is the friendship (He was my best man vs. our kids go to the same school and we sit together at events)? How good are both of you at communicating and how are you at handling feedback? What kind of CEO is he--very hands-on and wants to manage details, or willing to give staff more independence (ie, how much would you be interacting, even though it would not be a direct report?) What if the job doesn't work out? Can you walk away gracefully? What if you need to ask for something like a raise or vacation days (thinking of another poster who works for her dad and can't get a raise). Would you feel comfortable doing that? How devastated would you be if your friendship petered out over the job? Can you keep your friendship separate from the workplace (ie, colleagues may be jealous if you appear to be too close to the big boss)? Is it a laid-back company culture where people tend to be friendly with each other anyway, or very hierarchical where outside friendships would interfere with the dynamic?

Working with someone you already know can be great...you know what you are getting into. I can think of some friends I would work for in a second, and others that I feel very relieved have never offered me a job because I could never work with them! Just ask yourself some questions and answer them honestly.

skunkfunk

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2014, 10:19:05 AM »
I've worked for my dad for 3 years now. It's worked well.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2014, 11:45:44 AM »
I think it mostly depends on how good of a worker you are.  Since he's not your direct boss, as long as you're a good employee I don't see it being an issue.  I've worked for family and it was a great experience, but I think only because I worked my ass off to prove I wasn't there due to nepotism.

If the job is that good of a fit, I wouldn't over-analyze the friend thing.

Edit:

Also wanted to add that of other relevance is that you won't be working side by side all day.  I've done that with friends and while it didn't damage the friendship, I lost someone to hang out with a lot since we were already spending all day together, we didn't want to hang out at night very often.  Once one of us left the position our normal friendship could resume.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 11:47:40 AM by RyanAtTanagra »

fuzzed

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2014, 06:10:48 PM »
Some really great things to consider.  Thank you all for your feedback. 

As far as a friendship, we are not close and do not hang out on a regular basis other than a semi regular breakfast.  We were classmates back in university.

I had not considered the what if I want to leave angle before.  That will be something I will have to discuss with him.

As one poster said though, if the job is a fit, "then don't over analyze the friendship thing"   

Thanks again for all of the thoughts and opinions.

dragoncar

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Re: Would you/should you "work for" a friend?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2014, 12:01:07 AM »
Some really great things to consider.  Thank you all for your feedback. 

As far as a friendship, we are not close and do not hang out on a regular basis other than a semi regular breakfast.  We were classmates back in university.

I had not considered the what if I want to leave angle before.  That will be something I will have to discuss with him.

As one poster said though, if the job is a fit, "then don't over analyze the friendship thing"   

Thanks again for all of the thoughts and opinions.

No personal experience, but that doesn't really sound like a problem.  Like, if you for some reason part on bad terms, you'd be giving up a semi regular waffle?  Doesn't seem like a huge loss.