Our post about friendship last week prompted some friendly disagreement. “What have you seen or experienced in your own workplace when friendship mixed with business?” we asked. When it came to how to negotiate this tricky terrain, our readers had very different responses.
Some, like reader Rasih, took a hard line against all friendship in a work setting:
There are no friends in business!’ I read this line a few decades ago and thought that is a bit exaggerated. However, I now know that it is true. I made that painful experience myself by starting a company with one of my ‘best friends.’
Others suggested that business and friendship can mix, if you use caution. Reader Jim Lucas, for instance, wrote:
I think there is room in modern society to accommodate different styles and degrees of comfort as it relates to friendship at work. However, we need to demand that only one group exists—the whole organization—and one outcome be held above all others: that everything we do benefits the customer.
And commenter Greg Harris sounded a similar note:
Nothing works better than a team that truly likes each other. . . . The challenge is demonstrating that company comes before friendship. Every manager has to be ready to fire his/her friends if they aren’t cutting it.
Finally, many readers voiced strong support for bringing friends into the mix. For example, reader Curt Fowler wrote:
We spend what percentage of our waking hours at work? If we cannot develop friendships with the people we spend most of our waking hours with, then what is the point?
And reader Martha Lawrence wrote that friendship had mixed very well with her business:
The company is filled with husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, cousins and good friends. It’s a wonderful, fun, supportive culture. The success of the company is reflected in employee satisfaction surveys and strong financials. What makes it work? Mutual respect, a willingness to disagree without being disagreeable, an ability to separate business issues from personal issues, lots of transparency and accountability, and clear agreements. [/EXPAND]