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Friends and Colleagues

Friends and Colleagues

Do you have colleagues who are also friends?

Sharlyn Lauby | HR Bartender

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion there are three kinds of people in my professional life. And it’s important to understand where these kinds of people fit in your life, or otherwise you can find yourself in some sticky situations.

The first are the ones I call “hang out at the bar” people. These are the people you immediately click with. You genuinely like them and they like you. From a personality perspective, you get along.

Then there are the people you want to work with. These aren’t the “hang out” people. When you have something that needs to get done, you want them on your team. They get things done and do it right the first time.

I want to draw a distinction because this is where you can get into trouble. A person has a “friend” who they get along with so they figure it would be fun to work on a project with them. Pretty soon they find out what working with that person is like. Maybe the friend doesn’t meet a deadline. Or the quality of their work isn’t up to your standard.

But they’re a friend. Now you have a decision to make:

  • Confront the friend hoping they understand. Let’s face it, most times this means the end of the friendship.
  • Let the friend slide and hurt the project. And depending on your role, this may/may not affect you in the future.
  • Buck it up and take on all the work yourself. This usually involves bottling up some serious resentment on your part.

Of course, the last type of person is the one that fits into both categories. You like them and you want to work on a project with them. They pull their weight and you can laugh with them at the end of the day.

All of these people are important in your professional life.  They are all valuable.  But making sure you understand your relationship with them is key.

  • You don’t want to invite the “friends” to work on projects if they aren’t able to deliver for you.
  • You shouldn’t ask project colleagues to hang out if it will make working with them uncomfortable.
  • And the people who can do both, well … recognize there aren’t that many of them and cherish the uniqueness of the relationship.

It’s important to realize the strengths (and weaknesses) in our personal and professional relationships. Collaborate with others when it makes sense – for the project and the relationship. It will save you a lot of heartburn.

Quiz: Are You a Team Player?