There’s no good outcome from allowing nepotism to be the deciding factor in a family member or friend getting a job within your company.  When you favor a friend or relative into the business, with little to no consideration of alignment to a role, you’re doing more harm than good to both them and the business.

It doesn’t mean that family and friends don’t have a place. After all, how does a business become a family business if there’s no family involved? Put simply, when you hire or promote people, including family members, who aren’t the best fit for the job, you’re encouraging misalignment.

#Thoughtstarter

No amount of love aligns a person to a role that doesn’t fit their behavioral style, leadership profile or driving forces for coming to work every day. Ask yourself if family members arrive at their positions on purpose or if they are placed in those roles with a healthy dose of “good luck” as their primary strategy for success. Misalignment between a person and their role isn’t resolved as a result of your intention for someone to be successful.

A Course of Action

In the two decades of serving the needs of leaders/owners of family-owned businesses, I’m continually struck by the compromise of performance standards driven by the belief and subjectivity that just because someone shares a lineage or friendship, they’re going to bring superior performance to a role.

The best thing that leaders in family business can do to course-correct is to bring objectivity to the decisions of who gets a job within the company.

The Back-Story of Nepotism

Jaine was under-performing in her role and she knew it. For two years, her life was a self-described “living hell” and she wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion. She was the director of marketing. Her mother, and co-owner of the business, asked me to develop an understanding of where she was at and what should be done to correct the situation.

When I spoke with Jaine, here is exactly how she started the conversation: “I was put in this role because I’m my mother’s daughter, not because it’s what I wanted to do. She wants me in the company because that’s her vision and dream. I was an art major in college and my mom thought that my creativity would define my success in marketing. I wanted a job after graduation so I went along with it and I’ve regretted that decision ever since.”

This is the nightmare of nepotism within family businesses. Today, Jaine is a curator for an art museum in a major metro and she values her mom as a parent, rather than being frustrated by her as a business owner.

Fit Over Family

Within the business, there must be value in fit over family. Hiring someone simply because they’re related, but not aligned with their role, only prohibits or avoids family conflict for a moment.

On the other side of that decision are blind spots that are seen by everyone with the exception of the person that decided to favor family over fit.

5 Things to Consider When Hiring Family into the Business

Ask these questions if you’re looking to eliminate blind spots when hiring family into the business. Each of these have an emphasis that considers fit over family.

  1. Why is this family member the best person for the job? How have they earned this role ahead of other candidates?
  2. What are their unique skills and how will their talents and abilities deliver value to the role?
  3. What tension will be created within the family and the business by placing this person in this role?
  4. Am I hiring this person because they are the best fit and aligned to the role or am I selecting this person to avoid family conflict?
  5. What thought or perspective haven’t I considered? What are the potential blind spots?

Until next week,
Brent

Have you seen nepotism “in action”? I’d like to hear what you think or have you share your perspective and experiences.