You recently hired your nephew who was looking for work, but you’re beginning to notice that he is always late, takes way too many breaks, and is producing low quality work. Or perhaps you’re running a family business where everyone from your mom, to your uncle’s wife’s sister is on staff and the lines between family and business are starting to get blurry.
As a manager, how do you oversee or discipline your relatives without setting off a family feud?
Guidelines for managing employees who are also family
Needless to say, managing family members can get tricky and even a bit awkward, so it’s important to follow some general guidelines to ensure that your business and personal relationships continue to grow. Here are six things to consider if you have relatives on your payroll.
1. Think twice before hiring
Employing a relative simply because they need a favor or because you’re looking for quick help could lead to issues down the road. As with any other applicant, make sure he/she has the right skills, qualifications, or ability to be trained before you extend a job offer. Also keep in mind that if your relatives are feeling pressured or obligated to work for the family business, it may be difficult to motivate and manage them, especially if they are uninterested about the work to begin with.
2. Establish clear expectations
It’s a good idea to sit down with your family member(s) to go over their responsibilities. Communicate what you expect from them as an employee as well as what they can expect from you as their manager, not as a family member. This will prevent both of you from taking advantage of one another and ensure your working relationship starts off on the right foot.
3. Create boundaries
Separating business from personal life is challenging for any manager and twice as challenging when managing family members. Create boundaries early on so that business issues don’t affect personal relationships and personal issues don’t disrupt business operations. You may choose to commute to work separately, limit work-related talk after hours, or have your relatives refer to you by your first name instead of ‘Aunty’ or ‘Mom’ while at work.
4. Be honest
If you have relatives working for you, be sure to let other employees know. Hiding any personal connections you have to an employee could come across as deceitful and leave other non-family member employees questioning your ability to treat them fairly. Being honest will give you an opportunity to gain trust and show that you manage objectively.
5. Treat all employees equally
All employees should be held to the same standards, regardless of whether or not they’re family. If you find yourself bending the rules or being overly critical, stop and ask yourself, “would I respond the same way if this person was not a family member?” The last thing you want to do is alienate those employees who are not family. It could lead to claims of nepotism, kill employee morale, and damage your reputation as manager.
6. Always communicate
No matter how well you know someone, it’s never a good idea to assume that they know exactly what you’re thinking/feeling. Even if you share a close relationship with someone, make sure you are both on the same page by communicating openly and giving constructive feedback whenever necessary.
Here in Hawaii, having family members on your team is not uncommon. But while working alongside your relatives can be rewarding, just keep in mind that it’s okay to cut ties if the professional partnership isn’t working out. While letting go of a family member employee may not be ideal, doing so before the situation gets worse may be the only way to salvage your personal relationship.
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