Managing a good friend (got him hired)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Xil3, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Xil3 macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2007
    Wasn't sure where to ask this really, so thought I'd throw it up on here, since this is pretty much the forum I read most often.

    Basically, I got hired as a manager at this new job (which required me to move from England to Canada). They also asked me if I knew anyone else for the job, which would be under myself, so I recommended my friend (who was already living in Canada). Everything ended up going well, and I got him an interview (which was extremely easy).

    So yea, he got the job. We both flew down and started work.

    My biggest problem I'm finding now is with managing him. The way he responds to me is as if he would if we were having beers at a local pub - with no respect. I would ask him to do something and then he'd just say 'no' in a jokingly manner, and wouldn't do it, then later asked me what I wanted again (so obviously wasn't even listening). Meanwhile, there is another person under me, which is a more junior level guy, but I'm just embarrassed that he has to sit on through this.

    That's basically the small problem - now the main issues are the arguments. If I tell him that we're doing something a certain way, he'll argue with me to no-end - even for things that area clearly trivial. Even if he knows he's wrong, he'll go online to try and prove me wrong and show me that his way is the best way.

    Another bit of history - I had hired him on a few years ago to work as a sub-contractor under me in England, and that didn't go so well either - everyone basically hated him because he had no work ethics. Then I wasn't fully managing him though, because we had a project manager who kind of looked after him (tried at least).

    I know I'm an idiot, but I thought I'd give him another chance.

    Also, the only real jobs he's had so far are jobs I've gotten him - other than that he's been doing piece work in his basement (making websites for small companies). Making no money basically.

    And this job and the one I got for him before did and does pay a lot of money, which is more than he had before (which was basically nothing). I just feel that he doesn't appreciate anything I've done for him - just thinks that he's entitled to everything on a silver platter.

    Any thoughts?
  2. JamesMB macrumors 68000


    Jan 2, 2011
    It sounds to me like you need to have a little "chat" with your employee. If he can't or wont do the job, then you need to find someone that can, as this "arrangement" is clearly going nowhere.
  3. elizabethjane macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2011
    Yup, I agree with the poster above. Have a chat with him & if he still isn't doing the job up to your standards, dump his a$$.
  4. mshepherd macrumors regular

    Feb 29, 2004
    Maybe you should not act like a dictator and allow him to do things his way. If they don't work, then discipline him. Being a supervisor does not mean that you make sure everything gets done the way you would do it.
  5. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    It is a tough position to be in.

    However, if it is matters that are trivial to you, then no big deal, just make sure that the end result is what you need.

    Explain why you need something in a certain way, even if it is personal preference, at least explain why.

    And definitely have a talk with him about his style of interacting with you at work.
  6. Xil3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2007
    Yeah, I agree too - it's just really hard, as he's an old old friend.

    I just wish he'd be more grateful for all that I've done for him - he just takes it for granted...
  7. Xil3 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2007
    It's a development environment - he started a big argument over coding standards, and how he wanted it done his way.

    Not going to get into detail here, but that's not something he does on his own - consistency needs to be maintained and standards.
  8. molala macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    Cambridge, UK
    Agree it's a tough situation to be in.

    It's not so much about disagreement at work (and you do have to be open to others' opinions) but it sounds like he isn't treating you professionally or respectfully, in front of other people too! Either he is taking advantage of your friendship (so doesn't treat you as boss) or he just has a problem with authority.

    Agree with everyone that you should have a talk, not as friends but as manager and employee. Tell him the conduct and performance you expect, give him chances and warnings. I think that is all anyone can ask for, enough fair chances. And if he doesn't change his behavior, you'll just have to fire him.

    You should also try not take his behavior personally, that it's a reflection of how ungrateful he is. Could be he is just a bad worker, but not a bad friend.

    Good luck!
  9. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    See, this is where I would disagree with many here. One of your problems is that talking is no longer a useful framework for what you want to communicate, because you both have different aims.

    At some point soon, don't give him the chance to de-formalise the working relationship by getting into the unpredictable weeds of a conversation which he can derail... but instead, write a letter, not an email, but a letter explaining and detailing the issues that you have with him... and invite him at the end of the letter to a meeting, preferably where someone else is present.
  10. Fubar1977 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    North Yorkshire, UK
    Good Luck Xil.

    Employing friends/family is always a big gamble and something we now avoid
    for exactly the reasons you stated, it caused us problems in much the way you describe.

    The risk, of course, is that you are "guilty by association" in that your employers may think less of you as a result of his actions.

    You may end up having to choose between friend and job, tough call.

    Hope this works out for you.
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    You are being used.

    "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."

    If you want to read him the riot act, in attempt to save the situation, do it.

    But the choice is yours.

    Dump him now, or dump him when he screws-up after your "talk".
  12. MacVixen macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2009
    Santa Cruz, CA

    it's time to start documenting. Verbal conversations aren't worth they paper they are written on ;) If you really feel as though this is going to be a long term issue with your employee (remind him at work you are his boss. You might want to also consider skipping the Friday night beers for a few weeks, lol), then they only way to be able to deal with the issue effectively is to document EVERYTHING. That way if the time comes that you have to let him go, you will have everything in place showing the numerous discussions and chances he has received.

    Good luck!
  13. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Good friend or not, he is an employee and he works under your direction. You share responsibility for making sure his job is done correctly.

    I've worked as a contractor for others, and managed people working for me. I'm very particular about the way things are, but in the end if the person can handle it well on his/her own, he can do it his way (within reason) so long as the work is up to or better than par.

    You can manage people and still be friendly about it, but you need you have your employees respect you when you tell them to do something. Have a talk with your friend and explain how serious it is to you and to the job. If he still presents problems, time to find someone else.
  14. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    It's tough to tell from the context whether his problem is with you (i.e., he sees you as a friend, not his boss, so he doesn't listen) or if he just has a poor work ethic. Based on your previous experience, it sounds more like the latter, though.

    If it's just a problem recognizing and respecting your authority, then you have to sit him down and explain exactly how the hierarchy works and that when you tell him to do something, it's an instruction from his boss. If he still doesn't improve, then he needs to understand there are consequences to those actions.

    If he just has a poor work ethic, then simply point out your concerns and tell him he needs to improve. If he doesn't, then fire him.

    It sounds tough because he's your friend, but it's actually a very simple situation, and his being your friend shouldn't impact whether he keeps his job or not. I've terminated friends before, and while it sucks, it's in the best interest of the company and yourself, and that's what matters most.

    Good luck! :)
  15. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    you have to give him a dose of reality before it reflects on your ability to manage ... go out for a beer and set him straight ... you mentioned that others have been subjected to his rejection of your authority. That could come back to haunt you if you do not get him on the same page with you as to who is calling the shots.
  16. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    The OP needs to watch The Executioner, a Cheers episode, featuring Norm as a corporate assassin.

    Art imitates life.

    YouTube has it, in 3 parts.
  17. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    I'm going to be the harsh ass here. I question your managerial skills in hiring him after your previous experience. You made you bed.
  18. iMJustAGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 10, 2007
    Beach, FL
    To people chastising him what's done is done. Let's move on.

    You are indeed in a tough spot because you want (and have the right to) his respect as your employee, but at the same, you don't want it to interfere with your friendship. The only thing I can honestly recommend is the obvious. One day (over lunch break perhaps [keep the mood light]) you need to just say:

    "Look, you're my best friend and home we can play and screw around but work is work, and I as your manager I feel that you don't always take me seriously. You would want the same from me if the situation were reversed, no?"

    (Or something to that extent.)

    Just make it clear that work and personal life is completely separate and don't talk about this kind of stuff at home because that will most definitely create tension in your friendship. Keep it short, light, and simple so he's not offended or feel like you're trying to walk around apprising your position.

    Again, not an easy situation. Nobody wants to have to do this kind of talk with a friend but I think one would rather have this short talk now then let the anger or frustration build up over time when he probably has no idea how you feel and isn't thinking twice about things while the frustration in you is building concurrently. In that situation personal life will become conflicting because anger doesn't just stop at the door as your headed home from work.

    I've babbled on while speed typing so half of my post may not make sense but I hope your situation gets better. :)


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