It’s the Profit Stupid… Or Is It? Friends and the Money Bugaboo
Skolny Organization
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#GTIdeology Rejoinder: 7 Points on Friends, Profit, and Fun at Work

While in general, I do believe the notion of money is a worry for some in deciding whether to work with friends (“Money ruins friendships!” is the mantra), I tend to ascribe it to faulty views of money and profit in business and/or faulty friendships.

The latter came up in Thursday’s discussion and overall seemed to be the consensus. With those things aside, this rejoinder is more to the ongoing discussion of working with friends than to this week’s discussion in particular.

On working whether to work with existing friends in our lives:

1. When choosing whether to work with an existing friend and in what capacity, it is vital to understand the friendship. There are some friends with whom we are more inclined to do certain things with than others. Or, at least, there should be. It is unfair — and shallow — to expect each friendship to be a cookie cutter of every other. Or to imagine that any one friend should or can fulfill the depth of your needs for friendship.

Work is no different. Partnering with friends, working for friends, hiring friends, and being co-workers with friends are each distinct experiences with unique dynamics that should, in fact, must, be considered in light of each friendship.

2. The problem is not that we need sharper lines between work and business, but blurrier lines. The problem is that work is phony and stilted that leads to the awkwardness of friends joining us there. They actually know us. People at work, not so much. If you work at a place or run a place where the others don’t really know you it’s unlikely that you can successfully bring in real life friends.

3. Expectations must be explicit. Having said that, it is often a problem (maybe the problem) that both friends involved in a working arrangement do not have the same explicit understanding of that arrangement. It is not the same as saying to separate personal from business (which does not at all comport with the GTIdeology), but that a working arrangement is a new and entirely unique dynamic to a friendship.

Working with friends introduces a variety of theretofore foreign dynamics — stress, power, decision making, and, yeppers, money — to the friendship. It is naïve to think they should not be discussed beforehand. (And if the friendship can’t handle that discussion, see one above.)

On making friends at work, (specifically in The Skolny Organization):

4. Making friends at work should be natural. I am convinced that most people would prefer to be themselves at work than not, but that most work cultures deter, discourage, or outright disallow it. A thriving work culture should entail each of those first three points, both as its DNA and as embedded in its practices. To wit:

5. Systems constrain nepotism. I prescribe both organization-wide transparencies in all regards, including hiring, pay, and promotions, and consistent systems in which they operate. Any attempt to circumvent a system or to wield an arbitrary authority must be openly and flagrantly done — that it might be stopped, along with the cynicism it fosters.

6. A culture conducive to friendships deters cliques and cronyism. Of course, systems do not constrain individuals; they only constrain vital practices, allowing the natural making of friends and building relationships natural — and expressive of the culture — rather than establishing alliances and in-groups to navigate a hierarchy.

But, is it the profit, stupid?

7. Wide and arbitrary pay disparity precludes working friendships. Yeah, it kind of is. It is simply foolish to imagine that an organization built on existing social hierarchies, on that reinforces them in its payment structures can foster genuine friendship throughout the culture.

Face facts, when one person’s profit is minimized as a cost to increase another’s profit, they are never going to be friends or even friendly colleagues. Ever.

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