Professional vs personal – when it comes to friendships at work, where do you draw the line?
Mark Zuckerberg has claimed 4th February as “Friends Day,” encouraging us all to celebrate our friendships and recognise their importance. Friends, he says, are not a distraction from the meaningful things in life; friends are what give our lives meaning. Which is something we wholeheartedly agree with. But it got us thinking.
These days, with social media and the global online community, lines are getting blurred between business relationships and friendships. Even the modern workplace culture is shifting, with many companies providing games rooms and downtime areas to hang out with colleagues, seemingly encouraging more social relationships and informal atmospheres at work. We often get friend requests on Facebook from professional associates, many combine their personal and professional lives on Twitter or Instagram – so where do you draw the line? And what about relationships at work, where you are friends with co-workers, or employees / managers? It’s all hunky-dory when things are going well, but what happens when conflict arises – can your friendships survive business?
We think it boils down to boundaries, and to understanding up front what the potential risks could be. Most people are probably capable of being fairly rational and appreciating the need to keep professional and personal separate. But it’s a bit of a grey area, and definitely one to be wary of. Imagine if you were owed money by a company at work – how would you approach recouping that debt? Now imagine it is your friend who owes you. Do you behave differently?
How does your personal online persona affect the way you are seen professionally? This of course is a bigger question, and one that young graduates and employees who have grown up surrounded by social media will have to deal with all their lives. It’s common to Google (other search engines are available) someone when their CV lands on your desk – but do you judge them for their 3am antics on holiday in Aiya Napa, or can you “unsee” that when they arrive for interview?
Many start-up businesses are founded by groups of friends, people who have perhaps been to university together, and come up with their winning idea. It’s all fun and games while the going is good, but it’s vital for them to plan ahead. It can be useful to do team development training, using personality profiling tools or mediators to prepare management teams for the challenges – and even successes – which lie ahead.
It’s a big topic though, and we have more questions than answers. We would love to hear your thoughts on it. Have you lost friends because of business relationships that have gone bad? Are your best friends people you’ve met at work? What are your tips for surviving working with your friends? We want your stories! Get in touch @spirusmarketing or email firstname.lastname@example.org