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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Friend of a Friend: Why American Business is FUBAR

How do people get jobs these days? Friend of a friend. And that’s a bad thing.

In today’s job market managers and business owners see a friend of a friend as an instant reference and a reliable professional person they think they can trust on the job. Unfortunately, most managers and business owners just don’t understand how having friends in the workplace can be detrimental to their business long-term.

While having a friend of a fiend working on the job can help make for an amicable work environment for insiders, it can be stressful and downright frustrating for those working in the business outside of the inner circle. People who work in the office can become demoralized when they see a manager and their friends getting too social on the job. From their vantage point, they don’t see themselves as being valued by management or feel that their ideas will be valued when they contribute them in a professional setting. And because they feel like they don’t belong in the organization they lose their passion in the workplace.

When people see friends of friends on the job getting too chummy it often leads to absenteeism, turnover and job dissatisfaction from those outside of the social circle. These issues can slow down a businesses’ productivity and even put a business at risk of going out of business.

When it comes to having a friend of a friend on the job, it not only sucks the life out of a workplace by destroying worker morale, but it also destroys productivity as well. Friends of friends oftentimes abuse work rules and use the close ties of their personal relationship with a manager to abuse their professional relationship. The friend of a friend who takes off at odd hours, shows up late, or is rude to customers can be doing damage to a business’ reputation. However, because a manager has a overly close personal relationship with that friend they won’t hold them accountable for their unprofessional behavior on the job.

Instead of holding that person accountable on the job and insisting they pull their own weight like everyone else, many friends of friends on the job will try to pick up the slack for a friend. Fixing their reports. Cleaning up their memos. Making all sorts of excuses for them when they aren’t where they’re supposed to be.

Worse, they demanding that other workers who are outside of the social circle continue to pick up their slack as well. And when they do that they insist that their co-workers meet one standard while not insisting their underperforming friends meet another. This double standard can not only demoralize a team, but it can also slow down productivity to a crawl if this friend of a friend is placed in an essential position.

The biggest problem with hiring friends of friends has to do with supervision. Plain and simple, friends just can’t supervise friends. Whenever there are workplace issues friends of friends often put halos around those they are too close to. And because they are emotionally attached to that person they can’t see their actions from an objective perspective. An employee can be participating in all sorts of unprofessional behavior and that supervisor or business owner will just give it a pass.

And that employee will feel entitled to that pass. After, all they are friends outside the office. And the perks should also be inside the office as well. In a dysfunctional workplace where a boss or business owner does not set boundaries for professional conduct is often expected to look the other way at crimes like embezzlement, fraud and even sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Giving this kind of behavior a pass can put a business at risk for civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution. It can be a disaster that puts a business right out of business.

In many cases that manager who hired the friend of a friend who gets that pass for unprofessional behavior will transfer all the anger the have at their friend onto employees outside of the social circle. And while they take the blame for all the dysfunctional friend of a friend’s screw-ups those workers become frustrated and angry. And when they leave the business suffers because oftentimes a talented person is gone and the business winds up losing because the only person remaining in the workplace is the same unprofessional individual who was making a mess from day one.

On the job a supervisor or a business owner needs to remain objective. And that’s something they can’t do with friends working in the workplace. A leader has to establish a professional standard for ALL their employees.

In a workplace there has to be a consistent standard for everyone to follow. Every man and woman has to be made to pull their weight. Every man and woman must be held accountable for their actions.

 The same standard the boss establishes for themselves must be the standard they expect all the workers to follow. Again, as the leader the owner and the managers set the tone for the workplace. In order for everyone to be on the same page, everyone must be made to follow the same set of rules.

In business there are no friends. Yes, people can be cordial. Yes, they can be kind. Yes they can be connected to each other. But there has to be a clear line of demarcation between professional and personal behavior in the workplace. The boss who sets the boundary from day one will have a workplace that remains productive no matter who sets foot into the workplace.

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