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Separating Business from Personal

Separating Business from Personal

Sharlyn Lauby | HR Bartender

It’s very easy to say that you have to separate personal from business. So much harder in real life.

During the time I was a human resources director in Corporate America, I was always pretty guarded at work. I never knew when I would have to discipline or terminate someone. So to avoid the emotional turmoil, I tried to steer clear of having friends at work. The downside to this strategy is that people can – and will – label you as being cold, aloof and some days just a plain old witch (um…or more often something that rhymes with it.)

But in one of my former lives, I became friends with a fellow manager at a company where I worked. We were the only two women executives. Right around the same age. Had a lot in common on a personal level.

What was amazing about our friendship was our ability to keep our personal feelings out of business decisions. Trust me when I tell you, this wasn’t easy. We would be at opposite sides of a decision and had to work toward building compromise.

Where it might seem logical that our friendship would keep us working toward a common goal, I think we were both overly concerned about letting our friendship get in the way. So it would actually take us longer to find common ground.

Then add the dimension that comes into play when I was the director of human resources and had to make decisions about my friend’s future with the company. Examples like: what should her responsibilities entail, what kind of increase should she receive, will she be a part of the succession plan, or should she transfer to another location to expand her skills.

Being a manager is tough and sometimes very lonely. I’ve learned over time it doesn’t always have to be that way. You can have friends at work, but only if your friends are as mature as you and are always keeping the goals of the organization first.

Or as Sarah White over at I’m So Corporate blog calls it, taking the “Big Girl Pill” to succeed.

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