A while ago one of our fellow Heretics asked me “When you work in a startup, should there be a line between colleagues when it comes to becoming friends?”
It can be complicated.
You see — for a lot of people it’s hard to tell friends the hard truth, argue with them or figure out how to say the thing which needs to be said without convoluting work and personal life. In a nutshell: It’s incredibly hard to fire friends.
On the other hand there is something to be said for working with people whom you trust completely, with whom you are close and who understand you blindly.
Here’s my approach: I don’t force friendship onto my colleagues. If it happens, it happens. If not (and we’re “just” great colleagues) — that’s fine too. If it happens I make it utterly clear when I talk to someone as a friend or colleague (I literally say: “I am speaking as your colleague now — this is not Pascal, your friend, speaking.” — and vice versa.) That way you keep everything clean and everybody knows where the lines are.
Today some of my best friends are (often former) colleagues. By keeping boundaries clear I never had any issues with it. And to make things even more fun — I started and ran a couple of companies with my wife and we ended up working at three companies together. All doable if you set the right boundaries and are clear about the different hats you wear.
P.S. Our Heretic Network is growing and growing (and growing up)! We now have 99 Heretics (who’s going to be number 100?), tags and location data; plus you can sort by name, tag or location. Check it out — and don’t be shy and reach out to folks.