5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Reignite Lost Love When Your Employees Have Soured

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Image by: Jordan Fischer
By Jack Day

Office friendships are the ones that keep you sane. For some, these are who we trust the most in business. Those on the other side of that steel, felt and Post-It note covered wall are there just like you every day. For others, they are the people that make life in your new city, new state, new world bearable and fun. These employees can become more like family.

So what happens when it all goes south? When suddenly your buddy on the other side of the wall finds reasons to go to meetings, have lunch out without you, and never asks about your crazy girlfriend?

There are ways to cope and rekindle what you once had. You just have to get creative and a little bit introspective.

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#1) Trace Your Transgressions

What the heck happened man? Something must have triggered this sudden change. Now is the time to trace your steps and figure out what triggered this landslide of ill will.

Maybe it wasn’t you, but now is the time to start your sleuthing.

Think about your interactions, and maybe your place at work. What changed if anything? Did you promote someone they despise? Maybe you gossiped too hard and it finally made it back to them. It happens but now you have to make it right.

#2) Smoothing Over the Storm

Start with conversation. Nothing gets better overnight, and fixing what’s broken takes a nice long talk. If they’ll have you, invite them to tell you what’s going on so you can start with a foundation.

Adults have to remember to keep civility in mind. As children, a quick punch or raised voice would solve most things, but in these post-noogie days, it’s all about finding common ground.  It’s hard to determine a solid and sure way to fix things, because the severity of your disagreement could vary wildly. More times than not, it takes time and attention. If they’re as invested as you, you’ll find your friend again.

#3) Starting from Scratch

Most people don’t realize how much time they spend at their business with their employees. Consider the 8 hour work day model if you work year-round:

  • There are 52 to 53 Saturdays and Sundays in a year.
  • Out of 365 days in a calendar year, 259 of those are weekdays.
  • If you get 2 weeks of vacation, that means you’re spending at least 245 days with your employees for 8 to 9 hours a day. (That’s a lot)

When there is bad blood, it courses throughout the office. The best thing to do when a friendship sours is to start from scratch.

What brought you together in the first place? Chances are the things you had in common are still there. If you’ve spent years together, you’ve seen and done a lot together and it’s probably worth fixing the broken pieces.

#4) It’s not You, It’s Them

It’s very possible that things soured when you weren’t looking. Maybe your nose whistled on the day you were sick and it ticked off Tim so much that he decided it was over. (Geeze Tim, maybe he just needed a tissue)

The point is, you can’t be in everyone’s head and you can’t make people like you once they don’t.

Sometimes friendships run their course, and if you consider all the numbers relating to time in #3, you’ll understand why. People rarely stay in their jobs for 30 years or more, and it may just be time for someone to make a move.

It’s possible that they are pulling away to make leaving easier. Those in transient jobs can relate.

Sometimes it’s just a better plan to slowly ease your way out of friendships rather than have them dangle for years, reliant on nothing more than a “Happy Birthday” Facebook post once a year.

#5) Is It Worth Your Trouble?

People are social creatures and by nature want to be accepted by everyone. It’s a nice thing to want, acceptance, but it’s not always something we get.

At the end of the day, life starts when work ends. Our personal lives are more complex and more important than anything that happened in the office that day.

Keep in mind that work just pays the bills. Unless you own your own business or you work for your family, work is just a part of your life, not the entirety of it. Consider how important your office friendships are and go from there. In the end, a worklationship will only be as successful as your office circumstance allows.

A crooked cubicle may be your new reality, but chances are, you’ll find your common ground over some inside jokes, coffee and mutual hatred for Dancing With the Stars.

How have you handled office tiffs and spats?  Are the boss who calls a meeting every time something happens, or do you have other ways of rallying the troops and mending sour relationships?  Let us know all your thoughts and anything else you would like to add! 

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