Is Your Work Buddy Dragging You Down?

Who do you hang out with at work?  Do your work friends contribute to your career growth or are they holding you back?  Could it be that you’re doing all the right things in your job but your association with the wrong person has given management the perception that you have a bad attitude?  If this sounds like your situation, then you had better take action.  Start by asking yourself these three questions:   

Am I more productive when my friend isn’t around?  Is  your friend always chatting to you or otherwise distracting you?  Are you always surprised by the volume of work that you can complete when you’re buddy isn’t there?  This is a clear sign that your friend is not an asset to your work performance.

Do I get into more trouble when I’m with my friend?  Have you noticed that every time you get into trouble at work, it is when you are with this particular person?  Whether you are just following their lead, or they goad you on when you cross the line, the result is the same; you’re in trouble again!  If spending time with your friend regularly leads to an uncomfortable conversation with you manager, then you should take time to determine, is it really worth it?

Have people told me to stop spending so much time with this person?  Has your manager told you to create some distance with this person?  Have other people mentioned that you are easier to deal with when your friend isn’t around?  If so, then it sounds like people are willing to distinguish your friend’s behaviour from yours for now, but if you don’t heed their advice, they may start to lump you together.

Now that you know that your friend is toxic to your career, it’s time to take action.  So what do you do now?  Follow these steps to diminish the impact of your friend’s bad influence:

Be honest.  Even though your friend is getting you into trouble, he is still your friend.  You owe it to him to be honest about how you are feeling.  Tell him that you feel that your friendship is getting in the way of your job.  Let him know that you enjoy spending time with him, but that it would be better if you spent your time together outside of work.  Your honest feedback may be wake up call to your friend if it causes him to realize that he is perceived as a bad influence.  Your friend may not like it, but if he’s a good friend, he should understand it.

Find opportunities to work with different people.  Volunteer for projects that would give you the chance to work with people who you haven’t worked with before.  This has the dual benefit of creating distance between you and your bad influence, and it allows you to form some new relationships at work.

Focus on your job.  At the end of the day, you are being paid to do a job, not to make friends.  If you keep yourself completely focused on your job performance, you should be able to stay out of trouble.

If you have a toxic friend at work, they are probably causing more harm to your career than you even realize.  The problem is that even if you aren’t actually doing anything wrong, just the perception that you are the same as your badly-behaved friend will limit your opportunities.  Keep your eyes open and concentrate on doing a good job and you shouldn’t run into any problems.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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