Mae Lon Ding, a compensation accountant, says: "Hiring, managing and paying family members are some of the most difficult issues a business owner can deal with, because family relationships can inappropriately influence business decision-making."
What's the risk?
The primary risk that comes with hiring a family member is the relationship itself. What happens if you eventually feel they are not doing the job they were hired for? Can you fire them? If there is one thing that might come between you and them, you firing them might be it. If you want to hire a family-member, make sure you're willing to take this risk.
How to make it work
It is important to note that mixing family and business doesn't always have to be a disaster. "Today, there are many very successful family businesses, which are passed on from one generation to the next, and their survival and success depends on many factors," says Suzette Heath, a clinical psychologist.
Here's what to consider:
- A good personality fit. Ask yourself if you get along with them. Running a business can be stressful and always comes with a set of challenges. If they stress out, get angry, overreact easily or are extremely emotional when faced with problems, they are not a good fit for you.
- Look at their skills. Don't bring a family member on board because you like them and think they will work hard. Make sure it makes sense for your business to have them there, where their skills are a necessity.
- Keep your emotions at bay. "We sometimes might take for granted that family will put up with our moods because they know us so well," says Heath. Remain professional and work from a business mentality. If things go wrong, look for a solution and not a person to blame.
- Respect. Heath says: "Because family members know each other's personal life and intimate issues, one might be tempted to use that in arguments about work. Keep the two worlds apart. At work, respect each other as colleagues and at home as family members."
- Identify that you are their boss. This needs to be spelled out at the beginning. Don't let family walk all over you because they have a personal relationship with you. Set up your boundaries and stick to them.
- Get it in writing. In case the situation doesn't work out, get all forms of verbal agreements in writing. Also, give them guidelines as to what your expectations are. Set goals with them in advance so they know what they're signing up for.
- Trial run. See how it goes for a month. This way, if it doesn't work out, it will be easier to let them go.
- When in doubt. If you have any doubt about hiring a family member, then it's best not to hire them at all. Go with your gut and don't think you owe them anything because you share chromosomes.