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The Effects of Buddy Hiring on an Organization

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In the working world, we all know the benefits of working with friends or people you know. You gain the ability to leverage your friends in other departments to get what you want, the camaraderie of working with people you know, and, in some cases, the knowledge that any mistakes you make can be easily covered by your cohorts in house. Luckily for me I don't have to deal with it. But in many companies, the act of "buddy hiring" runs rampant, so much so that the organization becomes a surrogate of another company, with friends and family working for each other, covering each other's backs to the point where nothing gets done.

What's left is a small group within the company who find themselves as outsiders, tasked with carrying the weight of the buddies to keep the company afloat. It becomes both awkward and unfair.

Sometimes there may be a good reason for buddy hiring. A hiring manager may have contacts who are well versed in a particular company need. Hiring friends can mean bypassing the cost of recruiters. And there is always the "fun factor" of working alongside people you get along with and already have a connection with.

But what happens if the buddy hiring goes awry? What if the buddies are not very good at what they do? What if the buddies are lazy or incompetent? And what if buddies are helping other buddies to move up the corporate ladder?

What happens is that you will end up carrying their weight, you will end up fixing their mistakes, and of course they will not suffer, because they are buddies. What hurts the organization is the loss of trust within the group. Like a scene from Survivor, employees find themselves forced to become part of an alliance or risk being alienated and pushed out of the organization. It means that an unspoken distraction takes hold within the company, leaving every corporate decision to be questioned as a business decision or a buddy decision. There are countless companies that have degraded or completely collapsed due to buddy hiring, leaving officers and investors shaking their heads in disgust, wondering, "How did this happen?"

If you are in a position where buddy hiring is going on, unfortunately there isn't a whole lot you can do. Buddy hiring is usually condoned by upper management, who are clueless as to what is really going on. To complain about it will probably get you tagged as the bad guy, faced with an alliance that has company officers convinced that there is no problem. The best solution in most cases is to either suck it up or walk away. Some realities are ugly.

Hopefully you will never be tasked with dealing with buddy hiring in your job. Just be vigilant of the hiring practices in your organization, and be ready to protect your own interests from those who are allied in their own favor.

Remember: It's not Survivor. It's only a job.