I Get By With a Little Help From My “Friend-Ployees”

Ask any business owner: most likely, they have involved their friends and family in their work somehow. My step-dad is our COO, one of my best friends manages our brand, and my mom’s friend does our marketing. One of my decorators is a guy I’ve known since middle school when he had a wicked tall mohawk. Even my husband worked a few shifts alongside me and the cupcakes.

But, what do I do when an employee really eats it in a project? Like, they full on fail. It’s really hard to focus my feelings when that employee also happens to be someone who I used to play Barbies with. Managing (and disciplining) a friend is not an easy task. It’s awkward, to say the least. What gives me the power to boss my friend around?


Wicked Good Account Executive Nora Weiss and Me. Best Friends since 1995!

The answer is in the question! I am the boss (ensue finger snapping). This company is how I eat at the end of the day. My employees will always get paid; I am subject to miss a pay check or two. A consistent flopper on my team is a one-way ticket for me to stick to a Raman diet for a few years.

I always highlight my mistakes so that everyone knows we’re on the same playing field. Did I mislabel a jar? Quick work announcement: I mislabeled something, so I’m reminding everyone to be careful. Did my friend mislabel a jar? I pull them aside and let them know they need to be more careful. Then I drop it and move on. If my pal can’t seem to pick up after this incident, it may be time to collectively rethink their spot in the company.

It’s hard to lay down the law on friend-ployees. While I’m all for a relaxed environment (better works comes from people with a better attitude) and even covering when someone makes a mistake, I can’t let anyone get away with murder. Let’s be clear: no one is doing any murdering at Wicked Good Cupcakes.

Managing my friends is a lot like riding a bike: I can’t lean to one side more than the other. If that happens, I’m tipping right over. Yes: I want my friends to enjoy working with me and come to work stress-free, but I also require them to be punctual, organized, and an overall good worker. I have goals for my company and if a friend wants to hop on the back pegs of my bike, they need to listen to my directions to stay on.

Also, a helmet never was a bad idea. Now I’m rethinking our dress code…