Matt Shoup, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Colorado, is founder and CEO of MattShoup.com. He helps inspire and encourage CEOs and leaders around the world with life, love, and leadership advice. We asked Matt what he thinks are important considerations when looking at family members joining your team. Here's what he had to say.

Should I hire a family member? Most entrepreneurs have asked this question at least once throughout their journey. This question is an inherently loaded, as the issue evokes thoughts and emotions surrounding an entrepreneur's family dynamic.

I have recruited, interviewed, hired, fired, inspired and led team members over the decades as an entrepreneur. I have also had the experience of hiring and working with family members. In my experience, it's important to consider a few things before doing so.

  1. Why are you hiring? There is a big difference between hiring an employee and recruiting a phenomenal team member. When I have searched for and hired an employee, that is just what I received - an employee. Dave Ramsey says, "Employees arrive late, leave early, and steal while they are there." Are you just looking to give somebody a job; is that all they want? Or, do you have a phenomenal opportunity to share with someone who will become a part of your everyday life? Where does your family member fit - are they a job applicant, or are you recruiting a superstar?
  2. Could you fire this person if they stop doing their job? Your opportunity for this person will provide financial support, be a large part of this person's life and in a small way, marry this person into your business. What if it doesn't work out? What will turkey dinner look like after you fire a close relative?
  3. Speaking of turkey dinners, how do those currently go? The holidays seem to heighten familial drama, and every family has some degree of crazy running through it. My experience has been to the degree your family functions (or doesn't), this dynamic is only magnified in the business space. Multiply that yearly turkey dinner by 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Can you both handle that?
  4. How does your family view and value monetary wealth? Most people I've come in contact with have one of two views regarding large sums of money entering family dynamics: It's either something to avoid, as it only leads to envy and corruption, or it's a sign of success that measures how well you've served others - and yourself. What would your aunt think if she were being paid a $45K salary while you made $1M through commissions and lucrative partnerships? Would she be proud that you worked hard to receive this wealth, or become bitter and envious? How do you see this playing out in your business and your family?
  5. What opinions of this relationship are out there? One thing that absolutely happens in any "family business" is this: Non-family members form opinions and make judgements about your business relationship with your family members. Most of the time, these onlookers will never openly tell you their thoughts, feelings and insights, as they fear crossing the family line. Unfortunately, hiring a family member moves this sacred family line into an environment where candid conversations are a must. Having this uncrossable line stifles the ability to have much needed discussions. I have personally seen this play out in my company, as well as in those of many entrepreneurs I coach.

As you consider recruiting employees, especially if they are family members, there are a lot of factors in play. In my experience, it's important to ask yourself these questions above and to think carefully before making a decision. You could be making the best (or worst) selection for your company's future.

Published on: Feb 24, 2016
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