Sharing coffee runs, work nights out and a listening ear when things get tough, having a best mate at work helps you get through the day and gives you a sense of security that makes the challenges more bearable.
Career Coach Ines Kretschmer helps a reader struggling with the recent absence of her closest ally.
Dear Daily Slog,
‘The person who was my closest friend at work has recently moved on to a new company and I am pretty devastated. I know that seems a bit dramatic but I am actually surprised and how down I feel over her moving on.
We were both part of a pretty tough team so it was always great to have her as a sounding board for any problems that came up, and to back me up at leadership meetings. I get on well with the wider team but because of my management position I wouldn’t call them friends as such, just colleagues. The person who has left was a genuine friend.
I know it sounds silly but I feel like I’ve lost a bit of my passion for the company now that I don’t have this person as part of it anymore. Is this normal?’
Lets try to picture a similar situation to the one you describe, just in a different context. For example, lets say a very good friend of yours is moving to a different country.
Although you could still write to her or chat to her on the phone, and although she will come to visit, you feel quite sad she is gone – which is to be expected. Therefore, the fact that you feel down that your colleague has moved on, appears very normal to me.
Seeing somebody else move can make us challenge our own choices and where we currently stand in our own life.
A lot of relationships we build in work do not necessarily turn out to be friendships. But from time to time, a genuine friendship in the workplace develops where we support each other, enjoy challenges together, build teams and achieve goals and perk eachother up when we are feeling down.
We spend a significant amount of our time in our job and as we are social creatures, we benefit personally and professionally from these important relationships.
To lose a friend in any circumstance would affect us, and if we lose a friend in our work environment this can also affect how we view our workplace and everything associated with it.
Lets go back to the picture we have just painted – your friend moving to another country. It might be that you feel a certain desire to move on, too. You might play with the idea, to go where the weather is better, the food more exotic or whatever else it is that you currently feel you lack in your situation.
It is likely that after a short period of evaluating our own situation we find that we are quite happy where we are, and that we just miss our friend.
Even though you actually love your home, your friends and family, you could feel tempted to move as well or you might just be envious of your friend for having the courage and freedom to just do it.
In short, seeing somebody else move (be it to another country, another relationship or another career) can make us challenge our own choices and where we currently stand in our own life. And until you have fully assessed how you feel about your current situation you will remain in a state of doubt as to whether you are still happy where you are, or if perhaps you should make a move, too.
It is likely that after a short period of evaluating your own situation you will find that you are quite happy where you are, and that you just miss your friend.
Your friend has left the company, but you can still meet her and exchange ideas, feedback and just have a general gossip.
So coming back to the two crucial questions in your email. Is it normal, that you feel down that your friend and colleague has left? I think yes, absolutely. What can you do? Your friend has left the company, but you can still meet her and exchange ideas, feedback and just have a general gossip.
It might even be beneficial because you will now get to pick her brains on how similar challenges you have shared are tackled in a different company. Your relationship may grow apart over time when the shared experience of working for your company fades, but plenty of people have found lasting friendships that started in the workplace.
A possibly unseen benefit to her leaving may turn out as a chance for you to be more open to input and ideas from other colleagues which can be beneficial for both you and the wider team.
I would recommend using this situation to do a little inventory of yourself
Regarding the feeling that you have ‘lost a bit of passion’ for the company – I would recommend using this situation to do a little inventory of yourself. What do you particularly like and dislike about the company, your role, your colleagues, your day to day work? What are the alternatives?
How can the feelings you are experiencing now about your friend be compensated? What are you missing in your work and how could you find it?
Perhaps you do not want to move companies, but just change certain aspects of your day to day work? Do some training or delegate more? Shift the focus a bit? And so on.
It may well be you are just missing your colleague, but perhaps there is a little more to it, and giving this some thought will be valuable for you in figuring out your next steps. And who better to help you in that decision than your friend over a coffee.
I hope my reply is useful to you and I wish you the best of luck!
About Ines Kretschmer
Ines Kretschmer is a Personal, Leadership and Executive Coach, based in Dublin. To book an appointment with her contact her on 087 414948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a career issue you would like help with email the details to us at email@example.com and we will source a suitable professional to help. All correspondence will be kept confidential.