My friend and I started working at the same company at the same time (about six months ago). My boss did not get along with her from the beginning and eventually found some reasons to fire her. Now the boss gave me her hours and slightly higher position. I feel so bad about the whole situation. I need the job, but I think that my friend expects me to quit. What should I do?
Feel Bad Friend
Dear Feel Bad Friend:
Friends are keepers. We keep them by sharing their joys and frustrations. We are there for them when they need help, and we speak up for them when we feel they have been unfairly treated. We do not expect them to see things exactly as we do. We do not demand that they loan us money or that they quit their jobs just because we lose ours. We level with them about their shortcomings when it will be helpful, and we ignore their shortcomings when it will not. Right? What has your friend told you? Has she said or hinted that you should quit because she feels that your boss treated her unfairly? Did your boss do so? You feel badly about the whole situation, yet do you know the whole story as to why your boss did not get along with and fired her? Have you spoken with your friend about her firing? Does she blame the boss and excuse herself or does she take some of the blame? Even though your friend may see herself as without blame, might she have been so partly at fault because of incompetence, lack of professional decorum, or attitude? If so, have you said sided with her and in so doing have not helped her face up to her shortcomings?How well do you get along with your boss? Is she or he reasonable is assignments, grateful for good work, competent, and considerate? Do you feel that your boss thinks of you as efficient, effective, and as one who has a future with this company, or as simply one who can do the job that was your friend’s, possibly because you will not cost the company the benefits paid to your friend? Can you do the work assigned to your friend without overloading yourself and harming your family or self?I don’t know the answers to these questions, but their answers should help you to quietly start hunting for another job or not feel guilty about keeping the one you have. If you feel that your friend was partially to blame for her firing, you should not feel guilty about keeping your job. If you feel that the boss was really to blame, you may want to get out from under her/his authority by transfer within or by seeking work elsewhere. If you reason that some bosses and subordinates simply do not click and that your friend and boss were like that, you should not allow that to weigh on your mind and sour your friendship or working relationship with your boss. Can you think through these matters and discuss them with your friend without becoming obsessed with her situation? Can you empathize without siding with her in all things if you feel she is partly to blame? Can you tell her that you need the job and must get along with this boss even though she did not? Might it be best not to belabor the whole situation, to discuss and discuss and discuss it? If your friend is really your friend, might she understand why you think you should hang in there; that you need the job? Might your conversations with your friend help her find or fit herself for work elsewhere rather than to wallow in self-pity? Work is work and we can think of it as a curse and misfortune. Yet if we do, that makes much of our life unhappy and hated. Is it possible for you to see your work as a service that has meaning? Do you feel it is doing good and or makes a significant contribution? Is it just a job or might it be something that you can bring some joy to, that you can help delight those for whom you work, that you do not have to work in fear that you will break the eggshells that you must walk over each day, that you are free to bring a little lightheartedness to?If these many questions help you reflect on your dilemma, these thoughts are worth the time I have taken to share them with you. If not, take them with a grain of salt. Hopefully they will help you resolve your feelings of being a bad friend.Friendship is caught up in the deep meaning of the word we. So should it be. Working with others also should be caught up in the meaning of our signature WEGO. Will you let us know how all this works out? Feedback: Thank you so much for your quick and thoughtful reply. Those are all good things to think about. I guess I am more upset about the way my friend was fired (without any warning or notice) than the fact that she was fired. Our workplace is a very small one, so we all have a lot of time to talk to each other. That is why it was a shock to both of us. The whole office had gone out together and seemed to get along. I just assumed, if there was ever a problem, that we have/had the sort of office dynamic that would enable the boss to let us know right away. My friend had been looking for other jobs even while on the clock after this, and I think that along with her attitude (of doing what needed to be done but not really wanting to work there) was the reason she was fired. I have learned that some employers will not tell you if they disapprove of your conduct. In fact, they might say that it is fine and smile; however, they are thinking to themselves that it is time to get rid of you. As far as the personality thing goes, they really did not get along well, but I never saw anyone fired because of that. The last thing is that the boss had the “you’re fired/forced to quit” talk with her as soon as my friend came to work in the morning. My friend then had to or chose to stay there and work all day. I thought that was the worst things a boss could ever do, and I think the reason my boss did that was to force her to quit, was because how could anyone keep working after that? I do see a future for me with the company, and if I can help my friend move past this quickly, I think that would be the best solution. She just keeps repeating all the mean things the boss said to her when she was firing her. This hurts both of us because she is deep in self-pity, and some of the boss’ comments were about me doing things better and that hurts my feelings and strains our friendship. (By the way, the boss knows we are friends… we were hired together). Thanks again!! You really helped me. Sorry this email is so long.Friend Of Fired Co-worker More For Friend Of Fired Co-worker: Often small workplaces do not have performance appraisal programs in place. Therefore, in light of this unexpected and unhappy firing of your friend, might it be wise for you to speak with your boss to ask for an evaluation? Perhaps, you can be up front with him to say that you want to know where you stand. Say it hurt for this to happen unexpectedly to your friend and that you do not want this to happen to you without warning. It would also be smart for you from week to week you learn if your boss approves of your performance and/or has suggestions for your work. It can be a regular Friday morning session asking: How’s well did we work together this week? Express you desire to have a strong honest working relationship with him. Weekly what went well and what needs improving sessions? are much more effective than six month or annual performance appraisals.Apparently, if you were to grade your boss on how well he bossed your co-worker friend, you would give him a D-. Bosses do not all know how to boss. So the bossed sometimes need to teach the bosses–in subtle and more formal ways to show them how they work best when bossed effectively. That may mean talking about how assignments and instructions can be given more clearly and how criticism can be addressed and corrected in good spirit. Let us know how you answer the questions in a paragraph in my last email: Is it possible for you to see your work as a service that has meaning? Do you feel it is doing good and or makes a significant contribution? Is it just a job or might it be something that you can bring some joy to, that you can help delight those for whom you work, that you do not have to work in fear that you will break the eggshells that you must walk over each day, that you are free to bring a little lightheartedness to? Feel free to keep in touch.