December 1, 2021

small biz advice

Problems Arise When Employees Are Friends

'You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.' ~Dale Carnegie

Jerry Osteryoung | 2/14/2011
You work so closely with your staff and it is very easy for them to become your very close friends. However, this can cost you much, even your marriage.

Jerry Osteryoung
Jerry Osteryoung
We are helping a couple that runs a motorcycle shop in northeastern Florida. They have been in business for over 10 years. Four years ago they hired an employee named Sandy to be in charge of the accessory department. She was great at selling these products and after awhile took over the purchasing of all the merchandise for this department.

For the last three years this department of the company was doing great and sales climbed steadily under the wife's leadership. Then for a variety of reasons, the husband took over her department last year.

The wife and Sandy played a lot together and socialized as well. They had become great friends. As long as the wife was in charge, the husband did not say anything about Sandy. However, now he is in charge. Because the business is now losing money, he had to tighten up the operation to make it profitable again.

The past two years, Sandy was responsible for buying the merchandise and the wife trusted her to make great decisions. She would frequently go out and spend money for new goods for the store on the store's credit card without any authorization. However, this had to stop. Sandy was spending money on inventory without any concern of whether there was adequate cash to cover the bills. In all fairness, this behavior was tolerated and rewarded as long as the wife was running things and the business was making money.

The husband, who's the new CEO replacing his wife, gave Sandy numerous suggestions, which went unheeded. His direct orders are ignored because Sandy's friendship with his wife is so strong.

When I asked the wife why she keeps Sandy working, she said Sandy is "loyal and faithful" to the business. She really believes that Sandy does not have any bad intentions, but her bad habits are affecting the business. Still, the wife is unwilling to let her go.

The problem between this husband and wife started small and now has escalated to become a threat to the business and their marriage. They frequently stop talking to one another and take time away from the business just to get away from the arguing about Sandy.

When they asked me what to do, I said they needed to let her go because it was affecting so much their business and marriage. I explained that their marriage was teetering on the edge of a breakup, and they agreed. Sandy was driving a wedge into their business and marriage, and loyalty just was not worth it. While it was tough getting the wife to see the problem, once she understood all of the ramifications it was easier to agree to a dismissal.

Now go out and make sure that you prevent your staff from becoming your good friends.

You can do this!


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