Families can be messy. Mixing business and families together can sometimes be an extension of that mess. Keep in mind these few tips that will help you avoid arguments and prevent business disruption:
• Don’t pressure your children to work in the family repair shop. They should enter the business only if that’s what they really want.
• Family members should become involved in the family business at the earliest age possible, allowing them to grow naturally into the positions for which their education and interests best suit them.
• Senior family members should continually monitor younger members to see when they are ready to take on major responsibilities.
• Give younger family members the ability to make some decisions.
• When jealousy or arguments develop between family members, address them quickly.
• Don’t treat non-family employees like outsiders.
• By the time they reach their sixties, senior members should prepare for their eventual exit from the company by consulting with attorneys who are experienced in estate planning and business succession.
And, always keep in mind the following pros and cons of family-run businesses:
• Dedication. Relatives often think of the company as an extension of the family.
• Familiarity. You know family members well, so you can select the best position for them and train them quickly.
• Entitlement. A relative may take advantage of family status.
• Morale issues. Your other employees may see the hiring as nepotism, especially if the family member is given a preferred position without having the appropriate experience or training.
• Crossover issues. Family problems may be brought into the workplace.
Here are three strategies to manage the downsides:
1. Make sure that the relatives you’re hiring really have the skills and experience for the job.
2. Write a detailed job description and make it clear that if the relative doesn’t perform as expected, he or she will be fired.
3. Make it clear at the time of hiring that your relative’s job performance will be reviewed during the probationary period by a group of managers or employees. This will take you off the hook as the sole decision maker.