Mike said it to me a few weeks ago. I’m not sure why it came up, but he said it -
“A job isn’t charity. People treat it like that and businesses suffer.”
He is right. Just because business is personal, doesn’t mean that you hire friends as a favor to them. It's not best for your business. But it's also not best for them or for you.
It’s not best for them:
Despair-motivated choices of ever-increasing compromise come from people who are desperate. We've all been there, right? At least I have. We've likely seen a friend so desperate to have a relationship, that above their better judgement, they date someone they would never be interested in under normal circumstances. Despair-motivated moves come from a belief that you’re not good enough to make it without compromising your ideas, your hopes or your dreams.
When someone is in a despair-motivated mindset, they take whatever job comes up even though it may not be the best fit for them. It’s like when your friend wanted a boyfriend so badly that she convinced herself that she really likes the guy she’s compromising for. She may to some degree, but deep-down she knows he isn’t the guy for her. That’s how it is when you hire someone who is desperate - they may be really good at selling themselves on the job and you on them - but you have to be careful because desperation may be clouding their judgement.
You know how your friend’s compromising relationship goes, right? It ends. If it doesn’t end, it’s typically because your friend still doesn’t have hope that she can do better. She slogs along, unhappily, in a relationship that isn’t best for her. Maybe it doesn’t always go this way, maybe they change and grow and it all goes well. But I haven’t seen that yet. If you’re looking to do what is best for a desperate friend, don’t hire them for a long-term position. If you hire a desperate friend, you may be providing them with pay in the short-term, but you will also be providing them with a job they may hate soon enough. Or potentially worse, you may be providing them with a job that they find security in and so they never explore the work that they were made to do. You actually may have their best interests in mind when you don’t hire them for a long-term position.
If you have work your friend can do and you want to help them in the short-term - consider hiring them on a temporary basis. Maybe just to complete a specific project or for a specified, short duration so that they continue to look for work that they actually want to do. If their desperation is removed by you providing them a temporary job, they might be able to examine their situation more objectively and determine what type of work and company would be the best fit for them.
It’s not best for your business:
I think it’s great to grow through experiences, to do difficult things and not just go with what is easiest in life. However, if a friend is looking for a job and you have a job open, that doesn’t mean you should hire them and do whatever hard work needed to make it a good fit. When you hire, you do it with intention and care. You want to find someone who believes in your externally-focused mission. You don’t want to hire someone desperate for just any job, you want to hire a great fit.
As Simon Sinek said in How Great Leaders Inspire Action, (paraphrased) -
"If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they'll work for you with blood, sweat and tears."
I’m not saying that it's bad for your business to hire someone who is stereotypically under-qualified. An under-qualified hire who believes in your mission will likely give more than a qualified hire who is there for the money. Don't hire someone who is just looking to make money. You’re not looking to make money. You’re looking to better the world with your business. You want people who are in it with you.
It's not best for you:
A former boss of mine seemed like he felt like a hero when he would hire someone who needed a job. You are not a hero because you hire someone desperate for a job. You are a hero when you put someone else's interests above your own. When you hire someone for a long-term position when they are desperate, you may actually be putting your own desire to be a hero over what is best for them. You also may be uncomfortable to reject them and fear that it will strain your relationship if you don't hire them. Put their interests above yours and be completely honest with them. Embrace the difficult conversation out of love for them. Let them know if you truly believe it's not what is best for them and why you think that. Hopefully they will respect you for it. Either way, it's best for your growth, if you do the hard work to put your friend's best interests over your own desire to feel good about yourself.
I'm not saying don't hire your friends. But I am saying try to avoid hiring a friend for a long-term position who is desperate for a job. You can't really guarantee that they are "on mission" with your business, because their judgement is clouded by desperation. Discerning who is "on mission" with your business may be the most essential component in hiring. After all, you want people who work alongside you with blood, sweat and tears, right?
And if it's not a good choice to hire your friend, that doesn't mean you shouldn't help them. Use your connections. Use your resources. Be a great friend to them. Oddly enough, being a great friend and having their best interests in mind might actually mean you don't hire them.