Working With A Friend As A Boss

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: March 11, 2008 - 3:11 PM

Can a good friend be a good boss as well? Matt suggests taking the proper precautions and having a serious discussion with the friend before making any decisions.

Dear Matt: I'm considering taking a new job; my only hesitation is that the person who would be my new boss is a good friend. It's a wonderful career opportunity, but I am not sure what will happen to our relationship if we work together. What do you think? Can it work?

Matt: This requires some serious planning and thought. It can work, but only if proper precautions are taken. That involves some serious discussion with your friend and prospective boss.

First, ask yourself what is so wonderful about this position, regardless if the boss is a friend or not. Would you even consider this job, career or company if your friend wasn't involved? Get a clear explanation and understanding of the actual responsibilities of the job.

Then, think about these scenarios, says John Amodeo, manager of Talent Acquisition for Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis:

If my prospective new boss were someone I had never met before this exciting offer of employ- ment, would I want to work under her or him? Why or why not? What traits do they have as a boss that would help me reach my goals?

Ask your prospective boss to pretend you weren't friends. Then ask him or her to compare you with other candidates for this position - or compare you to others who have previ- ously held this position. What makes you the best candidate for this position and why?

It's important to take the friend factor out of the equation and consider if you would really be happy in this position if you were working for someone else. Many people have worked with friends and find out they can't stand that person as a boss, but love them as a friend. That's because running a business is much different than maintaining a friendship. What happens to the friendship if you take the job, don't get a promotion or raise, want to leave, or it just doesn't work out?

"I'd make an agreement with my boss to honor the company, to respect the authority of a superior, and to not let friendship supersede the pursuit of excellence in terms of performance, attitude and goal attainment," says Amodeo. "If you focus on doing things right as well as doing the right things, the friendship may flourish along with the success of your mutual relationship."


Matt Krumrie has written and specialized in career advice for 10 years. He lives and works in the Twin Cities. Matt answers readers' questions every week; e-mail him at askmatt@startribune.com.
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