Friday, December 02, 2011

Work ethic

Today I gave up on working with a friend. It's been coming, but I didn't want to see it. Basically, we have different work styles. For me, paying work is work I'm grateful for. Sometimes I enjoy the project. Other times, the assignment is a means to an end. For example, the project may open a door to more interesting projects or it could just be a job to pay bills. I also have a strong sense of urgency when I work, which means that I wake up each day and do as much as possible, even when I'm not feeling well (as long as I'm not in danger of dying) or don't feel like working.

While my friend needs the work, he complains when the work is dull. He doesn't make an effort to exceed client expectations and needs to be babysat for every step of the project. And he doesn't seem to understand that when a client needs a project delivered on Day X, you do whatever you have to do to deliver on Day X.

Basically, he doesn't just sit down and do it. And I can't blame him: waking up each day to sit on a chair and write/edit IS hard work, especially when you don't even have a smidgeon of interest in the topic at hand. It's tempting to take as many smoke breaks as possible. To go out to lunch with a friend. Or take a nap. But you can't do any of those things because in the end, writing is a job like any other. And if you don't work, you don't get paid.

So I've decided that my friend is on his own when it comes to his fledgeling freelance writing career. I will ask how he is doing, but I'm not passing leads or work to him anymore. I have other freelance writer/editor friends who need the work and have proven to be more committed to delivering a good product, on time, without complaining the whole time they're working on the project.

I feel a bit sad to be cutting my friend out like this. But working with him is very stressful and quite frankly, takes out more out of me than the benefit of his help.

I hope that other people don't feel like that about me though.Because word of mouth, referrals from friends and other freelancers are a very important element to landing work.


Michele said...

It is a pity that it will impact on your friendship, but you would have no qualms about cutting this person if he was not a friend. Work is work and deadlines are deadlines. In the long run it is your business and your reputation at stake, so just chalk it up to "one of those things" and pass the work to those people who are committed to the job.

Damaria Senne said...

@ Michele - we were friends long before we became freelance writers and I'm hoping that we can go back to just being friends, no work relationship. Honestly, I think he knows we have different goals and maybe when I passed the work to him he dind't know how to say, no, I don't want it. Maybe he will feel relief. Ja, I am being optimistic:-)

Alison Fourie said...

That’s a great post Damaria. I have a strong work ethic. I get up daily and start work at 8am or earlier, no matter what and I work my day the same as I would if I was working in the corporate world, 8am to 5 ish. If the work is dull and boring, as sometimes it can be, I just get on with it, I am being paid for doing it, so I feel it’s up to me to do the best job I can with it. If the work is boring, I can chat on messenger and skype and listen to music and this makes the boring work go quicker, ultimately to me work is work and I am being paid for it and I like to think that I always send back a quality job to my clients as that is important. I have found you can’t mix friendship and work, it does not work. You can’t do favours for a friend by letting them assist you, that doesn’t work. If a person works with you and is not on the same wave length and have the same work ethics as you, you will have difficulties, I’ve been there in that situation and it ended very badly. Regards Ali

Sharon Tarin said...

Thanks for this and it’s a valuable lesson for people like me, who will have to expand in the new year and make use of subcontractors. The more I think of it, the more I feel that I should shy away from providing work opportunities for friends, because I tend to be quite hysterical about meeting deadlines and would not like to have to reprimand a friend. I find that most of my business has come about as a result of word of mouth and the reputation of my business has to come first. As you say, this is our income and our career. Thanks again, I sincerely enjoyed the post and it gave me good insight as to what I should and should not do in the future.

Damaria Senne said...

@ Ali
I think part of the problem when you work with friends is that you know them in a different context. And there are certain things that you can overlook in a friend that you can't overlook when your living is on the line.

I have worked successfully with friends before ( and continue to do so), but you have to see your friend very clearly before you can give them work. In my case, I knew my friend's weaknesses, but somehow, I overlooked them because he needed the work and I thought he was deperate enough to man up. I have been in his shoes, where you desperately need work and wish your friends would be supportive and actually pass work to you/give you leads for new work. And having been there, how could I not pass work to him when I had it?

Trish said...

Hi Damaria, Like Ali I tend to have set work hours, although mine are split up during the day due to the fact that the girls are so much younger. I also know that if I am contracted to do work then it needs to be done no matter what happens. I have pulled all nighters as and when necessary to meet deadlines. I find that if I have two jobs to do and one is more boring or harder than the other, then I actually make myself do that one first, knowing that I will be able to enjoy the other job once I have finished. As for friends and helping them out to me that is now a serious no-no. I have previously helped two different friends out who needed the work and got stung by both of them, neither of them are on TAVASA so don’t worry if it’s you. I had one who just didn’t get the concept of deadlines which put me under severe pressure to get the work finished, checked and back to the client on time. The other one would drop me at the drop of a hat for something else and then come running back when it didn’t work out. The first one I am still friends with while the second one has contacted me recently wanting to re-establish a friendship but I have been bitten by her so often now that I’m really not interested any more. At the end of the day it is my business and my name that is on the line and I’m not prepared to risk damage to my reputation because of other people’s lack of work ethic.

po said...

It is so true what Michele says, if he was not your friend you would not put up with it. I think your mental health is more important to you than anything, and if the two of your do not have a good working synchrony and he stresses you out, then it is just not worth it!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Damaria, Beric is experiencing the same difficulty at the moment with his books. Different working styles and different work ethics make collaboration really hard work if both authors aren't on the same page.

You've made the right decision though - you can't carry someone else at your own expense. You can help, but not carry, someone else...

Good luck - hope your own work is pouring in! :)
Judy, South Africa

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