Think Twice Before You Put A Friend On At Work

September 29, 2017  |  

Has anyone ever asked you for a job hookup or to be a reference for them? The request may not seem like a big deal initially, but your answer can put you in an uncomfortable position, particularly professionally, leaving many wondering, what should I do?

On one hand, putting someone else on professionally can actually help your own career, if that person, of course, is a good worker. But if the person isn’t a good fit for the company, you could be putting your own job on the line. HR analyst Laura Handrick of FitSmallBusiness.com has hired friends in the past and said things always worked out well because she was familiar with their professional background. “I knew their work ethic and performance at another (prior) company and I knew they would do a great job,” she told MadameNoire.

But before you get to that point, you have to first decide if you are going to say yes or no to the request. If you say yes, like Handrick, make sure you know your friend’s employment history and quality of work in case you are asked. “Be honest about what you are and are not willing to say to the recruiter. Ask the candidate to refresh your memory about his top accomplishments and contributions if you haven’t worked together in a while,” reported The Harvard Business Review.

Doing your own research and identifying the specific assets your friend will bring to the table is a plus for you as well. “If this is a good fit for both parties, this will be a win-win situation,” career coach Cheryl E. Palmer of Call To Career pointed out. “You will have the satisfaction of helping your friend in a time of need. You could get a referral fee if your company has such a program and your friend is hired. It could boost your image at the company if the person is hired, and the person works out well.”

While that’s the best case scenario, you should be prepared for other outcomes that might not be so optimal as well. “If you hire friends, they may ‘take advantage of your friendship’ and try to get extra perks, or get away with bad behavior,” explained Handrick. ” I’ve seen hiring of friends (and/family) become a liability, when the friend feels like the deserve extras, more pay, better title, more flexible hours, etc. I’ve also seen friends come into a business, violate company policy, and act as if ‘Hey, I know the manager, and I can get away with this.'”

Hiring or helping a friend get hired at your company could also affect your relationship with other co-workers. “If you hire friends, your co-workers or their peers may feel resentful, especially if you have a natural friendship bond that leaves existing employees feeling left out,” noted Handrick.

To avoid some of these potentially negative situations, it’s important to educate your friend about the company as much as they update you on their professional expertise. “Explain specifically to your friend what he/she needs to know about the job. This includes company culture, norms, expectations, etc.,” suggested HR expert/consultant Laura MacLeod from The Inside Out Project. “If you’re recommending, share anything relevant that you know about the organization, supervisors, etc. All this makes your friend informed and more likely to fit in appropriately.”

If your friend ends up joining you in the workplace, you will need to set boundaries immediately. “Have a discussion about how you will behave in the workplace. This includes things like: professional behavior and topics you discuss (which should be different from what you do as friends outside work), how to manage/navigate questions from other workers (how much do you share about your relationship?), communication and connection at work. This will give both of you a strong framework for proceeding in this new space together,” advised MacLeod.

If, on the other hand, you say no to the request for help completely, be tactful. Tell your friend you feel uncomfortable referring friends professionally, especially if you’re unsure of your friend’s work habits. “Personally, unless you have worked with the ‘friend’ in a professional capacity in the past, and can vouch for their skills, knowledge, work ethic and good temperament, I would avoid hiring or recommending ‘friends’, as I have seen not only the friendship ruined, but also the business morale as others perceive the new ‘friend’ as a threat,” said Handrick.

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