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Keepin' it in the Family, Nepotism

Say the phrase "family business" an you either evoke a scream or a cheer. Some people have some deep fears of working for a family business. It's surely not for everyone. In this post, we are going to look at working for a family business from the point-of-view of a few people; unrelated new hire, related new hire, and the boss hiring a family member.

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But first, what is "nepotism?" Nepotism is simply preferential treatment of a family member or friend over than of someone who isn't. This is regardless of merit.

As a Non-related New Hire

If you have ever been employed by a family business that showed nepotism, and you weren't the family member or friend, it probably sucked. When people ask my advice about working for a family business they aren't related to, I tell them to perform some deep due diligence:

1. What's the family's business reputation like? Do people like them? Do they have a history of people quitting?

2. Is the top management just family or is there a mix? Do you know if family members working there have experience and education to back up their positions?

It's up to you to decide if you can work in the "family" environment. It could be the best place you ever worked and the most welcoming "home away from home" this side of your Granny's house. The tradeoff for being in a more informal and family environment might just be your ability to move up the ladder. Weigh your options carefully.

As a Related New Hire

I won't mince words. You have a tough road ahead of you. Even so, I've written about the benefits of working for the family business, and they are big benefits. Yet, there can be some nasty times to deal with. My story is one of a father who didn't want to show nepotism. He didn't even want me to work for the family business. When I weaseled my way in, he often (my opinion here) treated me a tiny bit in less regard than a regular employee. Here is what you need to know:

1. Even if there isn't nepotism, you will get heat from the other employees who will assume you get more than they do. Suck that up and just ignore it. So long as you aren't getting the moon, and they get the outhouse. It's just human nature to think negative.

2. Stow your idea that you will get more than everyone else, that thinking will get you in big trouble. If you walk into working for the family business and expect not to start mopping the floors, someone will mop the floors with you. It's arrogant and down the road will do nothing for you if you advance up the ladder.

3. Get used to rolling with the punches, with this benefit comes great ups and downs.

As the Boss Hiring

1. Don't do it.No really, just don't, unless you are prepared. I feel hiring friends shouldn't be done. I've done it and more times than not, they felt they we're entitled to more, and it eventually ended our friendship as I couldn't match expectations.

2. If you are hiring a relative, such as your child, be prepared to have a frank discussion about what will be expected and how the two of you can combat nepotism. As the boss, you will do your best to treat this person as a regular employee from 8-5. Both of you agree to leave baggage at home and never to discuss family matters with other employees.

I'm not kidding on any of this. If you be the child or the boss, you need to think carefully about the whole thing. It will affect your business, in one way or another.

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Posted in Business Other Post Date 05/28/2017


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