Jamie Stephenson | Crain's Las Vegas

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jamie Stephenson

Background:  

Jamie Stephenson and her friend, Marcella Williams, co-founded The Juice Standard in 2013 as Las Vegas’ first cold-pressed juice bar using all organic produce for its raw and unpasteurized juice, nut milk and superfood smoothies. The company expanded to three locations in Henderson and Summerlin and at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and employs 39.

The Mistake:

In 2016, co-founder Marcella Williams and I reached out to a 10-year-friend of ours to offer him a full-time job after he had fallen on hard times.

We believed we were doing someone the ultimate favor. But, you can be friends with someone and not know how their personalities or private lives might negatively affect your working environment.

Shortly after the hire, our working relationship revealed a side of this person we had never experienced. Without getting into the details, there was workplace misconduct, followed by months of subtle coaxing and second chances. Then we were taken to court and sued for back pay, despite the fact that our former friend had quit.

We believed we were doing someone the ultimate favor.

The Lesson:

Establish boundaries with a friend who becomes an employee as you would any employee. For instance, no personal talk on the clock. Also, at The Juice Standard, we now have a policy that you can disagree but not be mean. Personal digs are forbidden in closed-door conversations.

If your precautions fail, then understand when enough is enough. Don't let the situation escalate because you feel bad about having to fire a friend. Remember that the workforce is full of people who would love to work for your company, and who are willing to treat you with the professionalism and respect everyone deserves.

We also learned to document everything to reduce "interpretation" should we need to defend ourselves in court against future employee allegations. Our accurate collection of records, though they could have been kept more thoroughly, ultimately protected us in court. Archive emails and texts to a backup hard drive or to the company’s cloud-based backup solution.

Lesson learned.

Follow The Juice Standard on Twitter at @JuiceStandard and Jamie Stephenson at @JamieofLasVegas.

Photo courtesy of The Juice Standard

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