Friends and Business
— By Vasiliy Ivanov, CEO of KeepSolid.
This is the question for which a middle course is not a synonym for an optimal solution. It so happened that some of the employees or partners of our company are my friends. Some of them I knew before the company was founded, and others I met at work. As I once wrote, one of the features of the IT product company is a heavy workload, including psychological stress. We have a few conveyor-like processes and a lot of new inventions/ideas, for which we have to find new solutions, new employees, and create business models. Of course, it would have been great to conduct all the processes with a positive attitude and to leave each meeting smiling.
“Is it really that difficult?”, you might ask. Unfortunately, it is. The solution of a variety of working tasks during development of new projects and products includes disputes and conflicting viewpoints. Besides, when the company grows, its organizational structure becomes more complicated, which entails increased responsibility for each leader and tensions between colleagues in case of unforeseen situations.
A dangerous mistake
At this point, some good friends have left the company. They left because of inconsistency with the company’s expectations. I found the reason for this situation quite quickly, but not quickly enough to prevent the problem. When the company was a startup, I called on many friends and acquainted IT guys to join us. “They’re so cool, we’ll definitely develop awesome solutions,” I thought. Only having lost a lot of time, I realized that the personal qualities necessary in the work do not correspond to the personal qualities of the “friend” at all.
Is there a trade-off?
What can we do if we want to maintain a friendship? At first glance, the answer is obvious – minimize conflicts in the office. But is the same true from all points of view? Let’s figure it out. I’ve read a lot of articles, in which the same advice can be seen: “Take emotions under control.” I tried to analyze the cause of emotions and came to the conclusion that many people who are involved in the process of solving a problem or advancing their idea during the work when colleagues disagree end up in this state. To take emotions under control and remain productive in a dialogue can be an impossible task for some people. And if one of the colleagues for the sake of preserving friendly relations softens his point of view, most likely he will not pursue the results as vigorously.
Another option offered in the books and that often can be seen in the films, is to take a deep breath, hold air and exhale. It really helps, but how often are you involved in dialogues where the rest of the participants, like in films, humbly wait for their colleague to finish the speech?
Solutions that worked out
First, having realized the inevitability of conflicts, we always try to timely answer the question “Where are we?”. If the answer is “in the office”, then this is no place for friendly relations. No matter if we like each other, the determining factor is the list of functions in the organizational structure of the company.
Second, the preliminary stipulated regulations allow us to withstand the right direction, so that working conflicts are not translated into off-hour relations.
Third, regular communication outside the office allows you to restore friendly relations, to discuss topics that are not work-related.
Fourth, if there are friends among the employees who do not possess the required professional qualities, it is better to sit together and discuss these nuances, explain the reason for the claims and what the possible consequences are. These actions determine the true expectations of everyone and reduce the risk of spoiled relations between people.