How to Work With Friends and Family

friendsOK – you’ve seen this before. You hired a friend because she needed a job and you had a position open. You reasoned that the personal relationship would make it easier because the trust was there and you’ve always liked her. Two months later, it’s a very different picture.

Down the street, it’s a similar scenario. Your wife asked you to find a place for her nephew. He hasn’t had much experience since graduating from college with a degree in English. Unfortunately he comes to work two hours late three out of five days a week and he doesn’t seem to respond to the “hints” you’ve made.

Both of these employers feel trapped by a friendship or family relationship. The good news is that it’s possible both the relationship and the employment situation can be salvaged. For this to happen, the employers need to do several things:

  1. Be clear on your expectations. If you don’t have a job description, write one. Be concrete about your expectations by making sure there’s a metric to use in evaluating performance.
  2. If you have a job description and metrics exist, prepare to have the “difficult conversation.” This is where you clearly state what isn’t working and what you expect to begin happening. The most important part of the conversation, however, is the consequences if the employee’s performance doesn’t change.
  3. To be clear, this isn’t a one-way dialogue. You’ll want to listen to your employee so that expectations can be aligned.

The bottom line is that your responsibility to your business has to take priority. If it doesn’t, the consequences can be profound. If you allow your nephew to be consistently late, you won’t be able to require punctuality from your other employees. If you don’t discuss your disappointment with your friend, it will seep into the relationship in other ways placing the relationship in jeopardy.

In other words, you must be clear about your role and what you expect as well as what your employee can expect to receive.

Do you have a friend or relative that’s not working out?

Michael Shapiro, Dynamic Management Solutions, Inc.

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