Ah, family barbecue time! You walk around to the back of the house, heels crunching on the gravel path. It’s a sunny, not-too-warm day, with three clouds gently floating in the sky. Only three clouds! You counted just to be sure. You start to hear the laughter and light bickering that is symbolic to your family’s style of communication. Some are standing around the grill, where you can already hear the sizzle of the meat, and the mixture of aroma – sweet sauce and hickory smoke. The rest seem to be clustered around the large, rectangular table covered in the plastic flowery tablecloth. Peeling back Tupperware covers, putting out plates, starting to dump ice into the coolers that are full of water, soda, and beer. And then the rest of the family, trailing like ants on a mission from the kitchen out the backdoor to the table to drop off goodies. Aunts and siblings and cousins and nephews – some would be sure to come by later but the main group was here. You shout out and wave with your one free hand, the other still clutching the homemade Russian potato salad you brought. You are welcomed immediately with hugs and people making fun of the floral shirt you wore to celebrate the first barbecue of the season.
Sarah, your cousin, steps out from the backdoor. Direct eye contact is made. And then broken. She brushes curtly by without a word or expression, except for the coldness that radiates from her. Ah, family….
What happened between you and Sarah? It depends on whom you ask – but it boils down to your decision to hire a family member. Never hire family! Not unless you are potentially ready for all of your barbecues to be full of dagger stares and cold brushoffs. I’ve met an entrepreneur who ended up in this situation. And difficult decisions were made and painful lessons were learned. I know you are similar and want to help others, especially when your business takes off.
Don’t let empathy overpower logic.
I had known the entrepreneur for about a year when his decision crumbled apart. Thoroughly successful, but he only had one employee – his cousin. She was the person he entrusted with his finances, banking, organization, and management of his properties. He has sharp business sense and a keen eye for things that would be profitable. But he also is one of the kindest people I’ve met. So he hired his cousin who was originally from the Midwest but was transplanted to the Northeast. I always heard about these ‘Midwestern values’ but apparently not all people inherit them. Or maybe hers just got corrupted. She moved out to ‘the big city’ and at first it seemed like a great fit. He was appreciative of her help and it freed him up to do more business development.
Check & Balance.
All business owners need to understand the check and balance system in finances. The person who hires the contractors shouldn’t be the person who pays the bills, who shouldn’t be the person who does the bank deposits….
This entrepreneur learned the hard way. His cousin began to get greedy as she saw all the profit and didn’t understand the cost side. All she saw were dollar signs going right into his pocket and not hers. So she took matters into her own hands. She ended up quitting suddenly; she had gotten a new job and didn’t even give him the courtesy of a notice. After she left, he naturally had to get back involved in the operations. And that’s when he discovered she’d be siphoning thousands of dollars into her bank account. He tried to confront her but all he got for the trouble was her claiming she deserved that money. Talk about future awkward family gatherings.
How can you heal this relationship? That’s something that only time, communication, and a hefty dose of magical fairy dust can handle. How can you prevent this? By being logical and careful with your hiring decisions.
Save your future barbecues. Don’t hire family.