"Don't hire your friends!" This is very common advice in the business world.
Since I like being a bit of a rebel and proving things wrong (sometimes unsuccessfully), I've never hesitated hiring a friend if they are the best person for the role. Over the last two years, three of my close friends have joined our team and I'm beyond glad they did.
(One of my very first mentors also told me not to call our company Basic Bananas. Luckily I didn't listen).
Since we are pretty much spending a third of our lives at work, doesn't it make sense to be surrounded by people whose company we actually enjoy? I'm a big believer in creating great work environments and I want my team to be excited to come in.
Working with people you like also increases team happiness, job satisfaction and productivity (because when you are happy you are generally also more productive). Plus we all (hopefully) know that a happy team leads to happy customers.
I do understand though why there might be some reservations about hiring friends and I've certainly felt a little nervous about it the first time around because the likelihood of coming across challenges that might impact on your friendship and put you in a weird position is very probable.
But then again, if you have a solid friendship, isn't this something you can overcome by being honest and grown up about? It might not always be easy, but easy is not always the best either.
I do believe that there are few things to establish when hiring friends. I'm no hiring expert and I've made plenty of mistakes but here are some of my observations:
1. Don't hire friends just because you want to hang out with them but because they are really good at what they do and are suitable for the position.
2. No drama: This is a big one for me. Some people are addicted to drama but it really doesn't serve anyone or anything. There are more satisfying ways to create excitement in our lives. It's like a romantic relationship, if there is too much drama, it probably won't last. So don't engage in drama and don't hire drama queens or kings.
3. Honesty: When hiring friends you really want to establish transparency and honesty from the beginning to avoid misunderstandings later on. This is really the basis of any amazing friendship and is even more crucial when working closely with a dear friend.
Julia is one of my best friends who runs our design studio and I believe the reason we work so well together is that we've always had open communication and trust each other one hundreds percent.
4. Clear expectations: Like with anyone on your team, make sure you define responsibilities so there will not be any resentment.
Shandra, another brilliant friend of mine who has just started helping out with running some of our workshops is constantly asking for and taking on board feedback and I can tell how much she really cares about our clients, always bringing her best to meet expectations.
5. No special privileges: Make sure that the rest of the team doesn't feel like your friends are being treated differently!
Don't make your other team members feel less important; so no secrets or insider conversations and absolutely no backstabbing. Backstabbing is horrible! With Julia who is a fellow Swiss, we make a point in speaking English in front of other team members to not make anyone feel excluded (except sometimes we do swear in Swiss because it just sounds a lot sweeter and I can be a potty mouth without anyone even realising!).
6. It's ok to play: There is obviously a boundary between work and friendship time but it's ok to have play times when you need a quick boost.
Susanne, one of my best friends who is our head facilitator of the Clever Bunch program is really good at creating fun at work! It's not uncommon when we run a workshop together to bust out into a quick dance off to reboot. I love that about her, even when she puts on Katy Perry! And as quick as we slip into dance moves, it's back to business.
Many of our team members have become friends and are supporting each other outside of work. It's awesome to see the level of conversations they are having throughout the day away from disempowering drama.
There is not a day I don't enjoy going to our headquarters when I'm in town and when I'm overseas or away for extended periods, I even start to miss them!