For many of the work-at-home moms and others who are starting a business from the ground up, it is very tempting to start hiring family members when the business expands beyond a one-person operation. After all, members of your family are the most accessible people around. Some of the formal aspects of employee-boss situations can be dealt with more easily between family members who share a household budget or close past relationships. However, be forewarned: experienced work-at-home business leaders report that many times, hiring family members is more problematic than it may seem at the outset. Here are some tips for making sure that you don't end up regretting your hiring decisions when it comes to involving family in your startup enterprise.
1. Set Pay and Compensation up Front
One of the big pitfalls with hiring family members or anyone else is that any vagueness about pay rates or compensation for the job can get very tricky later on. Whoever you hire may be disappointed with the pay that they are offered or demand more compensation later in the game. You may not need the same kinds of formal contract documents for family members that you use for others, but it's best to have a firm verbal agreement, if not a kind of contract in writing, before the work relationship starts.
2. Play to the Strengths of Individuals
There's nothing worse for morale than hiring someone who is simply bad for the job, simply because they need money or are part of your immediate family. When hiring family members, be sure to give them work in job roles that they are good at. This will prevent all kinds of stressful situations with poor job performance, lack of pride taken in work, and other situations where people are just not matched to their jobs.
3. Evaluate Past Collaborations
Before hiring on a family member for a new project, think about any other historical times when you have interacted with this person to complete some kind of project. It could be as simple as washing the dishes or picking out stuffed animals as kids. These kinds of past situations can give "the boss" a lot of insight into whether or not to hire a specific family member for something that is a lot more high-stakes than non-business cooperations in the past.
4. Think about Power Dynamics
Too often, not everyone in the family is aware of some pretty specific power dynamics that occur within the nuclear family structure. Often times, this is between a parent and a child, but the same kinds of power dynamics can occur between siblings or in almost any other family relationship. Understanding these implicit power dynamics before you start working people into a business structure will help you "predict the future" of how these family collaborations will pan out.
Take advantage of these sound strategies to be selective about hiring your family members, and you will most likely avoid some of the most troublesome situations reported by small business people everywhere. Smart hiring is always part of best management practices for a business, and as anyone who has been through this kind of situation can tell you, a little thought and consideration up front will prevent big problems later.