When you are running your startup business and are in need of help, it’s easy to run to the closest people in your life to help out, your friends and family.
It’s also easy, at least from an outsider’s aspect, to tell you that it’s a really bad idea despite the fact that it just seems so right when you’re in the moment.
There are certainly exceptions to the rule, and yes, some people figure out how to make it work effectively.
But the reality is that employing family members is fantastically challenging and the result of failure can affect your life well beyond that of your business.
Let’s have a look of typical pain points that tend to result when you make such a move. So if you do take the plunge, at least you’ll know what to look out for.
1. Emotion is always involved.
You can’t get around this one despite how hard you try and how many conversations you have. Emotion in employing family members is just part of the deal. In the big scheme, is going to make for a messy working environment more often than not.
Think about it: How is your brother/cousin going to feel when you, as his or her boss, is amidst having a serious talk about some failure or adjustment that needs to be made? They’re going to take it personally because you have a personal relationship, which is bad for your business.
2. Expectations will vary.
At the beginning you will assume that the given family member knows in advance that “they’re not going to get any handouts”. The reality is that they’re always going to have different expectations buried deep inside their brains than your other employees.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re intentionally going to perceive them differently. But, your family member knows, that they’re not your everyday employee. This will affect how they work for your company and handle disputes.
3. Your family members will be insiders.
So you’ve already done it, you hired your best cousin and they started a few months back. It’s Saturday night and you’re headed to a family event for the weekend where your cousin will be in attendance, along with their parents. You arrive and within an hour you understand that your entire family knows more about the inside of your business than you could’ve imagine.
Do you know why this happened? Because your family is excited with what’s going on inside your company. Also, you rarely talk about other than from a 30,000-foot viewpoint, and now they have the access they’ve always wanted and are attaining heaps of info from your new employee. Not sure if that sounds good to you, because it sounds like an absolute nightmare to me.
4. There will be perceived nepotism.
You’ve brought on your cousin and everyone in the company starts talk about employing family member. The difficulty comes when your cousin does well and starts getting some recognition for it. There will be employees, that believe the sole reason for your cousin’s success is because he or she is your family member — unfortunately, they’ll just never get past it.
Of course, it would be perfect to build such an environment where the success of fellow employees is as transparent as possible, excluding the possibility for nepotistic thoughts among others, but sometimes it’s just not that simple.