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Adding Friends and Family as Employees Could Lead to Personal and Professional Disaster

Human Resources

Hiring your first employee is a big step for any small business owner. Employees add a new dimension of risk to your business. Because you’re venturing into uncharted waters, many business owners decide to bring a friend or family member on board. It doesn’t seem as risky when you already know the person you’re hiring.

Beware!  You could be headed straight for the eye of a storm.

Typically, hiring a friend or family member is a disaster waiting to happen.  In most situations, these individuals don’t have the skills you need to help you build your business.   Furthermore, even though you know them on a personal level, you have no idea how your relationship will fare in business.  Will they truly accept you in the role of “boss”?

Unfortunately, when things don’t work out, your friendship will be strained at best, and your family dynamics will undoubtedly change.  Two of my uncles didn’t speak to one another for nearly a decade because of a business deal gone awry.  Talk about uncomfortable family dinners.

So before you decide to take the easy way out think about this.  Does your friend or family member have the skills, experience and core competencies you need to grow your business?  When you add employees you need to identify individuals who complement your skill set.  For example, you may be a real star when it comes to marketing and sales, but operational detail isn’t your thing.  A smart hire for you would be someone who thrives on process and detail.

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Can the friend or family member leave the relationship baggage on the doorstep?  Personal conflicts should be dealt with outside the office and shouldn’t interfere with business operations.  What if your new employee gets mad and decides not to show up for work?  Logic, not emotions, must govern in the business environment, and the employee must take the job seriously.

Finally, if you determine your friend/family candidate is a smart choice for your business, then make sure you get everything in writing.  Roles, responsibilities and expectations need to be clearly defined and agreed upon.  Plus, I highly recommend you agree on a method of conflict resolution from the beginning.  Don’t wait until problems arise.

The final decision, as with all business decisions, is up to you, but I encourage you to think long and hard before you add your friend or family member to your team.  Employees come and go, but our families and friends are here to stay.

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