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A Guide To Hiring Friends And Family In Your Business

The subject I’m writing about today is one that will keep CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs up at night. A business topic that will give business people heartburn and may call for relief from Alka-Seltzer or a package of Tums.

What am I talking about? Hiring friends and family members in your business.

You may already have friends and family in your business, but here’s a few points I’d like you to think about.

1) If it works out, it could be an incredible working relationship experience.

2) If it doesn’t work out, are you going to lose a friend or are you going to sever ties with a family member?

3) Will you be able to terminate their job or fire them, if necessary?

4) Will you be able to manage them in their jobs as you would any other employee working for you?

5) Will you be in a position where you are the boss and they’re not saying to themselves, for example: Oh, you know, he’s my friend or he’s my brother-in-law. No problem, I don’t have to do anything.

In my 23 years of advising CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs, family has been one of the most incredibly challenging problems that business people come up against.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I want you to think clearly and very carefully as to whether or not you want to hire friends and family.

If you are open to the idea of hiring or partnering with friends and family in your business consider this:

  • Make a list and determine what needs to be considered if you’re going to hire friends or family. Put a set of criteria in place before your hire; not after when it may be too late for it be a mutually beneficial working relationship.
  • Set goals for a friend or family member just as you would anyone else working for you.
  • Before officially bringing the friend or family member on board with your company, set the stage and rules up front. Sit down with the friend or family member and say: You know, I’ve got a problem. And my problem is I can’t treat you any differently than I treat anybody else. I can’t grant you any favors because if I do, all of the people around you are going to say look, he doesn’t have to do this because he’s boss’ brother-in-law. Or: If such-and-such doesn’t have to do it. Why should I?
  • Think ahead about how you are going to deal with and manage the not-so-positive or more demanding aspects of working with friends and family members. Have a candid conversation with them before they are hired. Make sure they are in agreement with how you plan to manage your company.

Remember: It’s YOUR company. You run the company, not your friends or family members. Everyone needs to know their role in the company.

Hiring friends and family in your businessAs a CEO or business owner, you’re taking on extra responsibility when you put yourself in a position of hiring friends or family. Just because you’ve known them for years or you’re related to them doesn’t mean that you need to hire them. Don’t feel pressured to hire anyone that you don’t want to. Now if you don’t hire them of course that could create some relationship tension, so you need to be very careful how you move through the process with what you say and do. Think it through before you make a move or say something you may regret later.

Always remember why you’re in business. You are in business for many reasons, but the bottom line is simple: You’re in business to make a profit.

If you don’t make a profit you can’t stay in business. No matter how much you like the business, no matter how much you’re devoted to it, no matter how much potential there may be. If you don’t have the cash to pay the bills, meet the payroll, you will not be staying in business for very long.

Any person you have working for you, including any friend or family member – remember, always to hire for attitude. Attitude is first, skills are second.

Many times in a business, employees can learn the skills necessary. But if they don’t have a good attitude, that isn’t something you can teach.

If you’re not getting along with a particular friend or family member in the first place, what makes you think when you hire them, just because they need a job, that you’re going to be getting along with them any better? The pressure will be on.

If the friend or family member doesn’t do their job well then you will have to act like the boss, the CEO or business owner, that you are. So again, caution. Sit down, talk to them, explain to them where you are, explain to them what their responsibilities are. Explain to them what the goals will be.

Don’t just hire friends and family members because they need a job or because it’s the easy way to fill a position.


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