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Hiring Friends or Family.

A few people that own or run a business, I spoke to as a rule never hire friends/ family.

OTOH: I have seen quite a few companies started by brothers/ family members.

Is this even an issue - or just go ahead and hire the best person for the job.

Would you guys hire or not hire friends or family for
a.) the company you work for/
b.) your own business whenever u start one?

Prakash S
Saturday, April 12, 2003

Well, my father's company has mostly family members in the executive level. He did have a lot of problems when he first started, and fired many of them, including brothers. But now it is pretty much stabilized and runs smoothly.

I personally think family companies are great when the proper care is taken. When I go visit them I always feel a nice warmth. And although I've seen some discussions here and there (mostly due to misunderstandings), it always gets resolved pretty well.

Even the coworkers that aren't family feel like they are. Everyone loves working there. It's a great place indeed.

Then again, I've seen some family companies being rip apart by greed, envy, lack of vision, etc.

In my company, my partner is my cousin, and we're doing great so far.

I would definitely like to hire family, specially for key positions, because when you know them enough, they're the best people you can trust on, IMHO.

Dysfunctional families are other issue... In my most personal thinking, I believe a family business can do much better than a "normal" one.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

I strongly feel that you shouldn't hire friends of family.  It's just an emotional minefield.  While in biz I've partnered with one friend and hired three, and it's only worked out one time.  Then again, I might be hard to work for/with, but I don't think that's it.  I think it's just a whole lot of extra problems that you don't need.

It's also harder for other employees, who may or may not feel there's favouratism going on.  There may not be, but why have to worry over it...

If you do go ahead, make sure EVERYTHING is spelled out in advance and on paper.  What if you leave?  What if they leave?  What are their expectations?  Responsibilities?  Etc.

One thing I can assure you - your friendship will probably never be the same.  It's sorta like a relationship with a friend.  You have to be willing to give up the friendship, and you probably will.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

It's fine unless you want to let the company grow beyond the family - in which case, the newcomers will be resentful, guaranteed.

But if you want to stay small, go for it, and more power to you - more companies should realise that the 'right size' is where they are - and if that is small, so be it.

Saturday, April 12, 2003


Never hire relatives.

Never hire friends.

Never hire relatives of friends.

I've done all three, had nothing but problems as a result, and will NEVER do it again.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Never hire relatives of friends, I missed that one - equally important. thanks.

Prakash S
Saturday, April 12, 2003

My brother and I haved worked together for nearly three years now and it's turned out fine. Of course, we had to come up with a special working arrangement: I work in Sydney and he works in London. Always have at least one planet between you and your manager.

Angus Glashier
Sunday, April 13, 2003

There are some famous examples where hiring friends has worked out well.  Bill Gates hiring Steve Balmer springs to mind.

Peter McKenzie
Monday, April 14, 2003

I read somewhere that it was Bill's dad who actually managed to convince Steve Ballmer to join MSFT..

Prakash S
Monday, April 14, 2003

But what does that have to do with "not hiring friends or family". It's not like the hiring process is what causes problems...... *think*

John Rosenberg
Monday, April 14, 2003

As early partners in a business friends or family can work out fine. Remember to sort out who owns what early on, and document who owns the copyright (hopefully the company)
This tends to work best when there is a "sales" partner and a "tech" partner.
Later in a businesses life, don't bother.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, April 14, 2003

I work right next to my spouse, on the same floor as my father and my brother.  I supervise a friend.  In the last two years, I have had four friends working for me part-time.  Most have moved on (although one is considering returning full-time after finishing the endless school he is doing) - but we are all still excellent friends and get together many times a year.

In fact, one of my *essential* criteria for a hire is that they must be capable of becoming my friend (and if they don't - they aren't going to stick around long-term - they won't fit into the culture).  Sounds cheesy - but I spend too much time working to surround myself with people I don't want to socialize with.  And I have an intentionally blurry line between my personal and professional lives.

In my experience, because you are friends or family, the predominant attitude isn't "I look out for myself". (Unlike many employer/employee relationships).  As a result, there is a *lot* more trust.  Things are more upfront, as well.

It's actually a good thing I work with friends and family, because otherwise it would be much harder to balance my personal and professional lives.  (Would have to schedule time to "get together", instead of this just happening as a natural extension of life).

So that's the counterpoint to the "don't work with friends - you lose the friendship" argument.  I am better friends with those I have worked with, because we were able to spend more time together developing the relationship.  We've got more common background.  Etc Etc.

However, my experience is no indicator of whether *you* should hire friends or family, just as someone else's bad experiences are also no indicator.  Certainly, there are pitfalls to watch out for, just as there are many rewards.  But your personality, the strength of the original relationship(s), expectations, the way both parties handle conflict etc etc are the main factors in whether something is going to succeed or not. Knowing what often happens, or the average experience under these circumstances is not going to have a bearing (unless you are Joe Average)

For instance, some people are able to maintain strong marriages even though they rarely see each other during the week (think spouses on opposite shifts or military couples).  Others (including myself) do the exact opposite - spending so much time together that I cannot recall the last time we spent more than an hour physically apart.  In between, there are many variations.  But the way *you* manage your relationship should be based on what's good for you and your partner, not based on what "other" people do. Because when it comes right down to it - just because any approach *can* work, doesn't mean it's gonna be ideal for you.

The same holds true for hiring friends and family. 

Bah Humbug
Monday, April 14, 2003

I've worked in a company were the board of directors were brothers. One of them was a screwup and the other brother who was good used to defend his decisions or twist and turn it ultimately to come to a right track. People who were hundred times better were left in cold. Ultimately people (including me got fed up) and we left.

I think when relation comes professionalism takes a backseat.

Monday, April 14, 2003

I've hired friends before and it was an absolute nightmare. 

A friend always expects preferential treatment. Oh they will say "treat me like everyone else" but then they will likely get upset if the feel that their close relationship with the boss doesn't garner them side extra benefits.

In my case, the friends tended to be on the sensitive side and that just made the situation horrible. It was a stupid, stupid thing for me to do and I would encourage anyone to tread lightly if they are considering hiring a friend.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Sibelius Software was founded by brothers:


Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Friends and family are great when things are going well. It's when the problems start that it becomes really messy. What if your friend is abusing his/her position somehow (turning up late, doing sub-standard work, wants extra time off, or worse)? What if your company hits hard times and cuts must be made? It happens to all companies at one time or another. You have a direct conflict between what is good for the company and what is good for your friendship, and it is unlikely that both will survive.

As a wise man once said: "the man who chases two chickens catches neither".

Tom Payne
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

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