Balancing Between Customers and Friends

One of the hardest thing to do as you build your career and are operating as A Company of 1 is to remember that the primary purpose for working is not to make friends…  If you really want to build a successful Company of 1, you will recognize that your purpose is delivering services to your targeted market/customer(s), focusing on what your customer needs, so that they will perceive greater value in having you there.   That of course, requires relationships with various people within an organization.   You will be spending the largest percentage of your day to day life around those people, working, laughing, creating and arguing….

And it’s easy in day to day interactions to want to be personal friends with those that you are working with, forgetting that really you are working for them.  They may be peers, superiors, and even subordinates, but your primary role is not to be their friend, it is to create and maintain a positive relationship that allows you to deliver the value the company needs to be successful.  Certainly you can develop friendships from that, and that can create a great working environment.  But it’s not the primary purpose, it can’t be the goal.

I forgot that at times in my own career, having met some wonderful people, who I wanted to get to know better on a personal level.   In most instances, those relationships helped me to grow in my profession as well as created friendships that last to this day.  In some instances though, they ended up being caustic, changed the work dynamic in a “not so positive” way, and created a, well a crappy work environment.  Being friends with co-workers can open you up to new experiences, create an appreciation for where people have come from in their own lives, and how they may have overcome obstacles to get where there are.  But it can also expose you to risks.  You may have a personal argument that creates friction when you are asking for something to get done, the person may take advantage of your friendship or use the friendship in a way that causes harm to your “companys” brand or you may learn something that will alter how you view them and as a result how you treat them.  As a result all these will reduce your ability to be successful and effective delivering the value your company is paying your Company of 1 for. 

I’m not saying to be “all professional” all the time, but I am saying that you should ALWAYS be mindful of your primary purpose,  create relationships that serve your primary purpose, and be wary of allowing personal feelings or relationships to get in the way of achieving your goal which is to deliver value to your Customer (employer).

Focus on your primary purpose, let your work day be about delivering the value you have signed on to deliver, and create relationships at work that are “professionally personal”, knowing enough about people to understand their point of view, how you can work better together or how you might help them, but stop short of getting too personal, where the relationship becomes a stumbling block.

With each person or groups of people you interact with on a daily basis, decide how you want your relationship to be with those people, and work to create that relationship, whether it is strictly professional, “professionally personal”, or as really good personal friends that also get the chance to work together.   When you are conducting your Company of 1 periodic reviews, evaluate where you are with all of your customer and internal client relationships and make adjustments, set goals to manage the relationship(s) in a way that allows you to stay focused on your primary purpose.  

You will be able to stay true to your mission, build relationships that are positive, respectful and personal and keep you on your path to building a successful Company of 1.


About John Kalusa

A Career Management Thought Leader and creator of the "A Company of 1" approach to career management, development and mastery. Revolutionizing the way we approach our careers.
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