1. Yasmin

    I’m not sure how to leave a new post, but since your FAQ instructs leaving new questions at the bottom of any article, here it is!

    I have a business etiquette question. Two of my friends used to work together (let’s say at company 1) – one a co-founder (let’s call him A) and the other a high level employee (“B”). The high-level employee left the company for a new job over the summer (company 2) and the friendship continued. The former company, in a bit of trouble, was losing staff and a mutual friend and co-worker (“C”) at company 1 decided to leave. The co-founder of company 1 knew he was searching but didn’t allow it to ruin the friendship. However, C had found a posting for a desired position at company 2 and asked B if the position was still open and if he could vouch for him. B said yes, the position was still open. C eventually interviewed with HR and a hiring manager, was offered a position, and started working at company 2. Now, A is upset at B and is refusing to talk to him as he thinks it is bad ethics to poach employees.

    This got me thinking about workplace etiquette and ethics. “A” thinks B should have told him that C was interviewing at his company. I think it’s not B’s place to have said anything about C’s activities – especially since he didn’t know if C would get an offer or accept the offer. If B had told A what was going on and C didn’t take the job, it would make for an uncomfortable situation at company 1. Furthermore, I find it strange that A is not at all upset with C. A believes you have to follow the rules of personal relationships in the work place, but in this case, I don’t think so. It isn’t the same as asking a friend if you can date their ex. Particularly since C acted out of his own accord.

    Is A out of bounds in saying that B acted unethically?

    • Elizabeth

      Given your account of the situation, I think you are correct that A is out of bounds in being upset with B. It sounds like all B did was to let C know that there was still a job opening (something C could have found out from the internet or a phone call) and B allowed himself to serve as a reference for C. It’s hard to find a good reference – you need someone that knows both your practical and interpersonal skills. Why should it matter what company C was interviewing at? The reference is still the same. I think A is overreacting and is taking out his own anxiety and frustrations on an easy target.

      However, given that you are friends with both individuals, I would advise YOU to be diplomatic and to distance yourself from the whole thing. It doesn’t pay to take sides when you don’t have to.

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