What do people think about hiring family?
I need some help with marketing, social media and managing trunk shows. My sister is a stay-at-home mom and has been wanting to pick up some part time work. I think this could be a great arrangement, but I am nervous about hiring a family member. If it doesn't work out, I don't want it to impact our relationship. Does anyone have thoughts on whether this is a good idea and if so, how to avoid potential pitfalls?
While it is often thought a mistake to hire family, many businesses happily recruit friends of acquaintances of their staff. I don't see a big difference myself. I would recommend you do as many of the following as possible:
- If you have a business partner, delegate all decisions concerning the hiring and management of your sister to them.
- if there is no-one in your business who can take on this role, find a mentor or other professional external person to do so, or at least arbitrate decisions concerning your sister. Get their opinion on the likelihood that this can work early on.
- Agree to actively work together to build a professional relationship. Call each other out when being "sisterly" conflicts with being businesslike.
- Map out as much of the relationship in writing beforehand - no surprises. For example, if you are worried that she might too much time off for family reasons, create a clause such as " you are automatically fired if you are absent from work three times over any 30-day period for any reason whatsoever". or: "If your non-work commitments ever result in a loss of cash or business for me, you are automatically fired"
- Some people can separate business and professional roles, make sure you two can do so right up front. Ask other people for their opinions on this.
Hope this helps
I might have a decent solution for you which will be at the bottom of my post.
The disadvantage of hiring family is if they don't work out it is natural to hesitate to get rid of them since it might affect the family relationship.
The advantage of hiring a family member is that they often can be far more involved more loyal and a greater benefit than an outsider.
I am not one who has any right to say don't hire family. My son has been working in my business for 14 year, my daughter for 10 years, my wife for 3 years and my son recently married a gal in the Philippines and our plan is to bring her into the business when she arrives. We all get along great. It is really nice working with them and my daughter and wife were instrumental in taking the business from losing a couple hundred grand to making more than twice that. For me having family in the business has been wonderful.
How about this for an idea. Hire her on a part time as needed, when needed basis. If she works out increase her hours and you will be in good shape. If she doesn't decrease her hours until she basically isn't there and there won't be an hard feelings. She will just think the need wasn't there and your family relationship will stay pretty much intact.
This is interesting and timely as I've just finished interviewing a number of family businesses in the field of qualitative market research. for an article that I'm writing in our association's magazine. My interviewees reported great success (and joy!) in working with family members as long as...they had the skills to do the job, the responsibilities were clearly defined, and of course there was a basis of trust and respect. Family members need to be able to give and take honest feedback and also make time for non business family enjoyment. That said, it's not a good solution for everyone. Aside from skills there is personality, temperament, work style that have to be considered. For example what is the pace of work that is required? Consider the family member's organizational skills, self-motivation/self discipline, a perfectionist or not? and is that required to perform the job?
Hi Carrie. Ask yourself a few questions...If you are paying your sister for work and you are not happy with her work, what will you do and say and what are the likely outcomes of any possible conflict?
What if your sister is late delivering some work? Will you just let it slide as she's your sister - her late delivery could have an impact on your business.
My advice would be to think over these and many other possible problems that could arise. If you believe that your relationship is strong enough to survive them, then give it a try. If you are in any doubt however, don't do it. From my own personal experience working with family and friends rarely has a positive outcome.
One of the problems with hiring family is they don't have the skills necessary to do the required tasks. Even if your sister has experience with marketing and social media, as a stay-at-home mom, can she take care of everything that needs to be done? It's not personal, but I have seen cases where someone hired a relative, and they were obviously not capable of doing the job. Even though it was hurting the business, they insisted on letting their relative do the work. If you have the funds to do so, you would be better off hiring someone who can devote their time to the job, or hiring an outside firm(not necessarily us).
I have worked with several family businesses and emotional roadblocks are the most common challenges that are faced. At the end of the day it's a tough thing to win. If you don't bring her on board- she's upset. If you do and there's an issue, your both upset. This is really a question only you can answer- is your relationship strong enough to weather some potentially heavy bumps? Each of you need to take a good hard look.
Sometimes family works, sometimes it is a nightmare. Family will either commit because they want you to succeed or they will do the opposite.
As much as you want family to be part of your success unfortunately it can backfire. Family can become complacent. They think owe you them, and they will not give you the respect you would expect.
These situations cause personal family problems that last for a long time. (This happened to me)
Some family will bend over backwards and help you in any way you need to be successful. If they cant, don't hold on to them and understand your relationship will change.
I wish you the best of success. Gil
I would love to have family more involved in any of my activity. I understand the risks, but the rewards are priceless.
In most of the cases is not a good idea to hire family members or friends in your company. However do not take this as a hard rule, successful examples of families building healthy companies do exist.
The major pitfalls of hiring a relative or friend are:
1. Team animosity - other people in the company may feel that you favor your relative over them in terms of decision making, promoting or wage. To mitigate this risk you may or should:
a. Be very transparent with your relationship and do not let anything be interpreted the wrong way.
b. Do not put your relative or friend directly under your command, place them in a different team under a team leader.
2. Team rejection - the people in the company may not accept your relatives as members of the team, even though not directly. They will avoid them out of fear that your relative may "spy" for you.
3. As a direct result of the previous two: Harsh treatment - You may be inclined to treat your relatives more strict, hoping to avoid the previous two situation. This will definitely damage your relationship with your relative. Don't do that. Treat them fairly.
4. Opposite to point three: Too kind - You may find it difficult to manage the relationship with those relatives, especially when they screw up. People in the company will notice that weakness and will react as in point 1 above. Again, be fair. If they screw up apply the same treatment you do for any other team member and let everybody know that. If you need to, fire them.
Most important of all: set up goals and expectations from the very beginning. Let them know that business is business and personal is personal. If you find yourself in the situation to fire them, you'll do it. It is delicate, difficult but can be done.
One more thing. Don't hire out of mercy, hire because those relatives or friends can add value to the company.
Working with family is ok - even preferable. And I also don't believe you need to emphasise the separation between work and out of work. As family, you have the advantage of knowing more about each other and this greater knowledge enables you to form a stronger working relationship. You should look at this working relationship positively and see it as a wonderful way to spend time with a family member on a pursuit that benefits you both.
Remember to celebrate the good things.
Remember to communicate.
And if things do go pear shaped - just remember that happens anywhere ...not just at work.Use the strength of your family relationship to work it out.
I think it is a myth about not being a good idea to work with family.
Go for it.
Begin by setting strict ground rules and boundaries and relax these once you have confidence in the arrangement. Discuss your concerns upfront and ensure that you hear and listen to your sister's concerns and wishes. Ensure that quality work standards are agreed to and track these as you would with any other member of your work team. Good-luck
Generally speaking, the key to any professional arrangement is keeping emotion out of the mix, especially as it relates to critical decision making. Frankly, that's impossible with family unless you have a distant relationship with a given family member.
The fact that you are having misgivings is telling you something. Have you read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink"? If not, it might be a good time to do so (it's a fairly quick read).
If you decide to press on anyway, you should draw up a written agreement that defines rules, roles and expectations of the arrangement in question, and both of you sign it. If done correctly, that will help frame the professional side of this relationship. It will set the stage to establish do's and don'ts and should define if/when you've crossed the "this isn't working" line so that you can dissolve the arrangement when appropriate. However, as you already know, even this up front communication won't guarantee that bad feelings will be avoided. People are emotional creatures...that's all there is to it!
If either one of you are not willing to draft and sign this "pre-nup", in my opinion that would shift this idea from "questionable" toward "destined for a train wreck."
If you believe either of your parents (or perhaps another family member) could provide you with honest feedback on your idea -- seek them out. They would be able to provide you with better advice than anyone online -- again, assuming that you believe the feedback to be frank and unfiltered. You could even establish that family member as a mediator in your "pre-nup" should a disagreement need third party consultation.
I also have to agree with Mr. Shivell in his view that family members, while perhaps convenient, may lack the skills (or even attitudes) needed to get things done.
Bottom line is that even though this is family, you should consider doing all of the things you would do in terms of defining relationships as you would with a non-family employee or business partner. Few family members can work in a loose arrangement without stepping on toes (and potentially causing long-term relationship damage) over time. That's what's at risk here, and don't forget it.
Regardless of past issues, Back in the stone age of no nepotism; It has become a steady standard of doing business. However it must be in writing to formulate their functions and authority if any. One must keep a balance within the work place, don't you agree. For instance I tried working for my brother many years back, while my nephew (10) and his step children (12, 9, and 8) worked beside us.. It wasn't long before I became the non-paid babysitter. While he went out to find new clients, I was saddled with maintaining the company functions and controlling his children. NOPE!
Now he works for me, pretty much, but it is extremely light farm work, but we have a strict written agreement, what he can and cannot do, and at no time is he to make any decisions about the live stock or fellow employees. That is the Farm Manager's venue.
Thus far it works out well. So I say yes to limited nepotism, just insure that their job descriptions are written in stone. It provides him an income, and something to keep his days busy. That is always a good thing.
Well I'm going to be the exception and go the other way. I own a social media company managing platforms for businesses. I also decided to hire my cousin to work for me 3 years ago. She had no experience in social media (beyond personal use) and was a stay at home mom at the time (previously a teacher). It was the best thing I could have done. My cousin, like your sister wanted a job for multiple reasons, but couldn't find anything worthwhile with the flexibility she needed. If your sister is in general a good, honest, hardworking person then she'd be wise to recognize this amazing opportunity for what it is. How else is she going work from home with such flexible hours and little impact on her home life??? I found my cousin eager to learn, excited for the work, and extremely grateful for the autonomy and pay. I think this could be a great situation for you and your sister. From your perspective...social media activity is easy to track. You can see what she is and isn't doing (reach out to me if you need help knowing how). She needs to track her time in a spreadsheet for you, and you need to understand and expect that she'll get faster and more efficient as time goes by. Depending upon the platforms and tools you use, she can do a lot with scheduling content during off hours and then use the apps on her phone to check periodically throughout the day and respond to activity and perhaps get in some solid time at the computer in the middle of the day at some point. You can also log in and see what she's scheduled and approve or give feedback as she gets the hang of it. She can handle reporting for you, email campaigns and many other marketing activities. Now, this is of course contingent on her skill set re: marketing which you did not mention. I wouldn't let her anywhere near my constant contact account if she wasn't previously in marketing or a really great writer (my cousin was)! But such an important part of social media is finding your company "voice" and your sister may be the best person to fill your shoes and get it right! All in all, this could work well for you long-term. As the kids grow, her role can too! I trained my cousin a great deal and also set her up with an online program for social media and marketing training to give her a professional perspective other than mine. You can pay her less than what you would a marketing professional, and only for the hours you need. With the right person, it's a win-win. I always tell prospective clients though, if you aren't doing well offline, don't take it online, fix it first or it'll only get accentuated. The same sort of holds true here, if your relationship isn't great with your sister personally, don't take it professional. If you question her work ethic and time management at home, don't bring her to your office. But if that isn't an issue for you then I think this could be great for both of you. Good luck! If you'd like more guidance on how to manage this opportunity, tools, tracking, training etc...feel free to reach out to me. Stay at home moms have the hardest job already, but it feels really good helping them find their professional mojo and put money in their pocket, without asking them to give up that most important role as household CEO. I'd be happy to help you do this for another mom.
Like any employee, the appointment is only the beginning. As the manager, you are responsible for the development of that individual in that role so they improve, gain skills, stay motivated and contribute more to the company.
If you can 't do that, you may as well not bother hiring in the first place. This is no different for family.
Ask yourself – can they do the job/how much support will they need and can I give it/ do they understand it is a REAL JOB, not a handy stopgap they can let you down on at five minutes notice/etc?
If you cover all this off, then I don't see any reason why you can't appoint a family member, but you have to remember they may grow out of the job and need to move on – don't take it personally.
Also, they may not take your support and fail to grow – and then you'll have to fire them.
Being honest from the start will make it easier for them to understand their role, but why not? It might lead to really good things.
Hiring family is fine, But--But, one also has to be careful about nepotism. After all, I once worked as a cleaning service where the owner and manager hired her older sister to be the supervisor--who was basically a 'Holy Ghost Filled Bully' . I don't remember what was worst her constant 'discernment' that so many were 'Witches' and 'Warlocks' or that 'she was the Caucasianness Of God' or the economic fact to disagree with her--she had the power to send us home without pay for which her sister always sided with her. She even got away with giving the hardest job as a punishment to an employee who was diabetic--for which her sister and brother-in-law, the true owners went out of their way to prevent him from collecting workman's comp--With an Amen and Glory Hallelujah --since both sisters were always saying what kind of 'Born-Again Christians' they were.
Having worked for two family firms, one small, the other progressing to AIM quotation, and then back to a ordinary Limited Company, I have seen both extremes.
Some tight knit family firms can be a problem, particularly if there are "squabbles" about the direction in which the firm is going. My former Financial Controller and I were often present at Board meetings. The Directors consisted of two brothers. and their father. One of the Company's directors was a Batchelor of Law and had his feet firmly planted on the ground. Both father (Chairman) and brother (Managing Director) were both Salesmen and very pushy, to the point where they nearly broke the company by what is know in business as "over-trading".
Regrettably the Financial Controller and I (both non-family) were the meat in the sandwich (so to speak), and the arguments could get very heated, particulary the elder brother who was the Batchelor of Law and could see the legal implications of what could happen if his brother and father got their own way, i.e. expansion at any cost. At the same time my Financial Controller and I were trying to be neutral by not taking sides, equally having to explain to both sides the implications of their proposals. Some very uncomfortable moments, and as I say, nearly broke the company.
One of the saving graces in this instance was that they were opposite ends of the building and one often in a sister officein London so they did not cross eachothers' paths that often. Equally they lived, over 30 miles apart from eachother and had different social agendas. However month end meetings and AGMs could get very frustrating for the Financial Controller and I as we had to be seen not to be taking sides. In fact we sometimes felt we the Marriage Guidance Council !
So yes, family firms can be very strong and successful, but equally can end up killing the firm by not allowing others in to the circle so to speak and therefore unreceptive to new or alternative ideas.
Very interesting comments here...what I would like to add is that DO NOT hire your sister because you want to help her, sometimes it becomes very sour at the end. If you see that she is excellent and looking at what she has done before and references from her previous employer you can hire her. You need to follow the same recruitment process that other companies are doing to recruit a new employee. Don't be involved when they do interviews, invite other people to conduct the interviews - it must be strictly professional and ask for their opinion if she will be a perfect candidate after the recruitment process has been done. You have to let her know first the process that you will follow in order for both of you to benefit. Transparency and trust from the beginning always bring lasting relationships whether its a family member or a stranger. The important thing is to hire the SKILL and PASSION for the job...hope this helps...
The short answer is: That depends on the family.
You have examples of both the positive and negative of hiring family.
I have front row seats to a family business. First you hire on skills. Then willingness and capability to learn. Then consider personality traits, in particular conscientiousness. Being a family member may cloud your judgement in her capabilities and the strength of your relationship.
The answer is context sensitive and the answer to your specific question is in how you assess the business and personal downside risk if it does not work out.
You need to assess your strengths and weaknesses and your sisters strengths and weaknesses and make sure the TRUST BOND is established firm and the communication lines stay open no matter what might happen...You have to be firm on expectations and make sure your sister understands your expectations, and you her's and put her through a trial period as you would do with anyone else...I find if the TRUST is good it is great arrangement, family members look out for each other if TRUST is basis of the relationship...Think Jack Kennedy and Booby Kennedy---