Hiring family & friends? Clarify roles

Family members holding key positions in small businesses is very common occurrence. Most of it because of inability to hire professionals easily. Sometimes, friends & family network appears like a good source of finding committed talent. To certain extent it is, but not without consequences.


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So what are the consequences?

  • For one, when you fill key roles with family & friends, you kill opportunity for everyone in your Organization to grow. People work hard in their careers so they can become CEO, VPs, GMs and with those roles gone to family, professionals are merely labour. Not an exciting proposition you see?
  • Family & friends may come easy but they don't go easy. Actually they don't even stay easy. In absence of clearly defined roles, result areas and jurisdictions, they can make you uneasy very soon. 
  • How do you think a professional manager in your business would review her team members who is also your family member. No matter how good is your intention, this doesn't work in practice.
  • There is also huge cost of this on your personal side of life, but that for another day.

Is there a way to make this work now?

  • Not really, but let's try to make it work as much as we can. Start with defining roles.
  • Role clarity is a great way to begin accountability and skills discussions, you'll get a handle to align talent around capabilities rather than family connectivity. So you may still onboard from family network but you'll give them suitable roles. There is a chance then that a professional will take a key role. You'll still have issue but at least you've cleared path of growth for people.
  • Keep a transition plan in mind when you hire a family member. This means that if you are on boarding the member because you couldn't get anyone else from market, don't stop the search. Unless family members sees this as a long term career, work towards replacing the member with appropriate hire as per transition plan. But don't make transition unplanned, don't say "lets run with this till we find right person", instead say "let's run with this for two years and then get a professional in." Nobody's hurt.
  • Form a management committee that meets regularly and take decisions. Give committee enough authority, ensure that committee has members beyond family. Drop some family members outside the committee. This way you'd begin moving towards a management driven Organization from being a family run.
  • That's it for now. Remember, you'll get talent if people can grow in their career with you.