Like that title? I thought it sounded really intelligent! Looking at it brings a knot in my stomach because the duality of corporate life and friendship has become to the forefront in my life recently. With the many ways to be connected in both the business world and the social world, they often connect.
I have a Facebook account that is classed as “personal” right? However, there are quite a few friends on there that I am involved in more ways than just personally. Let me give you a “for instance”
- My husband is my boss and my peer in no less than three things that we run together
- I have three great friends who work for the foundation that I volunteer for and now that I sit on the Board for
- I have 2 employees, and 2 freelancers that are also there, posting every day
- I have no less than 8 other friends that currently are in business with me or sit on my personal Board for a foundation that I am the President of
- I have about 20 friends who I love that volunteer for me, the other foundation and even a third auxiliary that I am now entering into
- I manage 3 corporate FB pages during the day and change my persona constantly to respond to, suggest, like and approve as well as keep up with my personal agenda
I have a Blackberry, don’t we all. I tweet and call and email and chat on many levels all the time with each one of all the above people. I love them all and throughout the day, wear many hats, depending on the situation. It’s a multi-tasking challenge to do properly and something that with all of your connections can get harder and harder to do. I have found just how politically correct I must be on even my personal Facebook page now as there are so many corporate eyes watching over me.
So how, do you put on that hat and have the understanding that the “friend” has to leave the room and the other part of me has to take over? I do it really well, or thought I did before last week. I’m still me, mind you, just removing the fuzzy part that puts personal emotion out of the picture and puts business first. I put that business face on last week to offer information to a group of my peers and people who work for a company, and I could tell it was taken personally. Defensive positions were taken for reasons that in business, should never occur. I felt dumb-founded and realized I must have done a really bad job that day.
So, I began the search on how to improve my take on “me”. What can I do to help the situation of turning the friend button off a little easier. I found that it is a very muddy filled pond that quite a lot of corporate people drown in. I looked at how I interact with some of my vendors and clients, who are both friends and I quickly see how they move from the friendly conversation of family and foundation to orders and projects, in a flash so fast it didn’t hit me. The very best person I have ever seen do this will be Cory, with Listen Technologies. A wonderful woman of speech and the power to knock you off your feet with compassion all at the same time selling you ice cubes if you were an Eskimo. That, is not me, but I do know I need some practice.
After all of my research and thoughts to within myself, I found the following and think it sums up how everyone really should react in business with friendships:
For me, the issue is clear:
Be explicit about when you are being a friend/family member and when you are being a business partner/client/vendor. Avoid mixing the two by being explicit:
“I’m your friend, but right now I’m talking to you as…
You are my friend, yes.
You are my cousin, yes.
But in my business, I do not know you.
One belief that I do not share is that you cannot be or have both. For over twenty-five years I have done both very well and maybe last week was just a hiccup in my performance over all. I can imagine that critique or receiving information that you did not know about ahead of time may seem like a “direct hit” against a friendship, but there are instances, where I think I will just have to not know you.
Please don’t take that as anything but me doing my job at the time. Sometimes my job stinks. Sometimes its really great. As a leader in my field and among my peers, I am often sought out for advice and suggestions as well as complaints, compliments…the entire gambit. I am happy that I am thought of on a level as approachable and someone who can make a difference.
For my friends in business, I will try to ease into the business mode from now on with a bit smoother transition and hopefully let you in on anything that I can ahead of time, when appropriate. When it is not, it’s just business. I feel like Tom Hanks and F O X. I know it is more than business in each one of us, that we each take our jobs to heart and love what we do, but when I am in that room, it is business, the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Jan Phillips: Leadership on the Edge of a Quantum Leap (huffingtonpost.com)