Navigating Nepotism: Stormy Waters Ahead

If you own or run a small business, you may be tempted to hire a friend or family member—either because you actually need the help or because the person needs a job.

While there are advantages to having a buddy on your staff, there are also challenges. For starters, friends and family may assume privileges or try to take advantage of their relationship with you. They may intentionally or inadvertently undermine your authority or blur the boundary between personal and professional realms.

Additionally, monetary discussions with friends and family members can be extremely awkward, and performance reviews are often difficult. And even if you try to avoid showing favoritism, other employees may perceive nepotism.

Of course, there are exceptions, and some family businesses thrive. But before hiring a friend or family member into your business, be sure you are hiring for the right reasons.

Additionally, be sure the person’s skill set, experience, and work ethic fit the position. Always set performance expectations in advance and be frank and up front about salary and bonuses. Lastly, go into the situation prepared to hold the person to professional standards.

Ultimately, you should always hire the person who is best for the job. If that is a friend or family member, be aware that the time may come when you have to make a decision that they won’t like, and this may result in a damaged relationship that lasts a lifetime.