This is another one of my “from the heart” postings because I have experienced this one first hand in the last couple of years, a couple of times, and I’m sorta over the consequences of going to work with a friend, and being Facebook friends with coworkers. I can already hear it, “well DUH…” but hear me out, because nearly EVERYONE I know who is on Facebook has coworkers as their friends, and more than one person I know has gone to work with or for a friend and it generally ends very badly for both of them.I think I am like a lot of kids when I didn’t listen to half of the things that my dad was trying to teach me when I was growning up. But one thing I DO remember, and I am grateful for his guidance on this, was “never do business with friends. Do business, and then become friends when you know each others quirks. Don’t find out later and ruin a good thing”. For the most part I have listened to that advice, and I am grateful for it. Then there were those times that I did not listen.
The first time I didn’t listen was with a person that I had gotten to know as a customer (they were a student in a class I helped teach) and we just clicked. It was a great friendship and eventually I recruited this person to join a company I was with. A+ hire on the part of the company…this person is a super star. We were, of course, Facebook friends, and we worked exceptionally well together, until that fateful reply to a posting that this person put on Facebook. Friendship went from great to non-existent within minutes, and while our work relationship did not suffer (we were both professionals) when it came to lunch between meetings, it was another story. It really shocked me because had I made the comment in person the context would have been crystal clear, and nobody would have been upset by it.
The second instance for me was going to work with someone who was a great friend. I mean someone I really trusted and someone that was like a brother to me. When they recruited me to come work with them I was excited, but then reality set in. The promises…all empty. The expectations…all fluff. The reality…nothing like what I expected. In the end it was a mistake to make that move. My friendship with this person slanted my entire view of what I was walking in to. I think it also impacted their view of what they were getting in me. Not that we are not both competent professionals, but the emotion of things caused our judgement to be clouded.
What DOES work, at least in MY opinion, is when you work together and THEN become friends…as long as you don’t later come to work FOR that friend. That follows right along with what my dad told me some years ago. Come to think of it, isn’t it funny how smart parents get as they get older? Anyway, I have MANY former coworkers and a few current coworkers that are Facebook friends, and that’s fine. They KNOW me. I KNOW them. I don’t care about their politics or religion, and they don’t care about mine. We took time to work with each other and learn the quirks we each have BEFORE becoming friends. When my coworker’s pasty-white bare butt ended up on Facebook, I could laugh at it because I knew him. By the way, just remember that what happens in Vegas could, and usually does, end up on Facebook. Just sayin’.
This bottom line is this. There are a lot of articles written by professionals that believe you should keep your personal life separate from your professional life, and that coworkers should not be Facebook friends. I believe there is a very good argument to be made that you can be both, but you need to understand that fact that the friendship could be ruined over either one, and if it creates issues at work, then isnt’ good for anyone.