Ask Dianne: What to Do When the Friend You Hired is a Poor Performer

Ask the ExpertQ. I made the mistake of hiring a friend to help run my office. She didn’t really have the background, but she was so supportive of me and my goals that I thought it would be great to have her help me grow my business. Now I see that what she doesn’t know about running an office really does make a difference. We have had “words” several times and there is a real strain in our friendship. I know she needs the job but her lack of experience is a real problem. What should I do?

A. Do yourself, your friend, your friendship and the practice a favor and let her go. Tell her the truth. It may be hard to say, and just as hard for her to hear, but you’re better off doing it now while you can still salvage your practice and perhaps the friendship. To do otherwise is an injustice to both yourself and your friend.

Don’t belabor the point. Don’t come up with a laundry list of problems to justify your decision. Just tell her the same thing you explained in your question. Add how much you value the friendship and her support, and (only if you feel like it and really want to) offer to help her with her campaign to find a new job. Don’t take responsibility for finding the job – and don’t hold off letting her go until she finds that other job, but do be supportive of her efforts.

If you find that the friendship has suffered irreparable harm, gracefully remove yourself from it. Don’t let guilt cause you to delay taking action.

Readers, anything you would add? Leave your comments below.

  1 comment for “Ask Dianne: What to Do When the Friend You Hired is a Poor Performer

  1. Janet Petty
    September 1, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    I did the same thing; hired a friend who had one skill (graphic artist) and hoped she would learn others and be my assistant, plus she desperately needed the money. She did very well with the graphic stuff and I paid her by the hour then started paying her a certain amount a month and let her do stuff on her own time – since a lot was on the computer anyway and she’d email me the results.
    But she started getting lazy with that by not getting things done and then I was confused to pay her another part of her “salary” or what.
    So, after another week went by and no result, I pulled her in and we worked together for a couple hours (like we did in the beginning where she got a lot more done – and I told her the RESULT I expected by week’s end. And she delivered.
    I learned an important lesson also – that I was depending on her and she had all my files and drafts and if she flaked out on me I’d really be left in a lurch. I got a copy of all my stuff from her, have one more job that I paid her for already and expect it done this week.
    I do not fall for her lists of things she does for me, good intentions, woes about her other odd jobs and how hard they are, or worse, worrying about what will happen to her when I let her go.
    Since she had the last job and I paid her in advance for it, I didn’t feel the need to feel guilty.
    I tried talking to her but we sort of went round and round and I just decided in my mind to get this job done and let her go. I knew I was protecting myself, my biz and my project by not telling her that right then and there.
    She’s an adult, I’m not responsible for her income. Plus when there’s nothing for her to do and “no room in my budget for her services this month” (or next) then she’ll get the hint and move on.
    Never give all your files to an assistant you don’t have a back up for or some that someone else could do if your assistant got sick or something.
    Better yet go on Elance and hire a professional who has skills and outline the specific job and tasks and pay all up front clearly defined. Save you your time and alot of stress and no loss of friends.

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