Ep95: Hiring (and firing) Your BFF

31 minutes

Have you ever hired a close friend or a family member? There is so much that is wonderful about hiring someone you already trust. But there are also inherent risks: what happens if things go wrong? Will you lose both an employee and the relationship?

Let’s talk about untangling the risks and rewards of hiring friends and family.

Why is that important for business?

People rarely move through life in lockstep. If something goes wrong, how do you fire your best friend?

Conflict at the best of times can be a challenge. Dealing with it with someone who is close to you in your personal life, in addition to your professional life, can feel even more fraught. Sometimes, instead of dealing with the conflict, we just assume they’ll also just know it isn’t working and will leave on their own. But you have to be prepared beforehand to deal with conflict, even when the professional might bleed into the personal. Because really, business is absolutely personal.

Unfortunately, people have a story that they shouldn’t have intense emotions in a professional setting. It feels like, in business, things are more black and white, nuts and bolts. But there is also heart. People are often surprised, and even embarrassed, by where their emotions show up in business. And if the person you’ve hired is already someone you are strongly attached to – if you go into the professional relationship already with heightened trust –when it inevitably ends, emotions can be higher and more complicated.

So how do you safeguard or protect yourself against the fall out?

You really can’t. All you can do is go into the relationship knowing it is possible and double checking if it is worth it. Am I willing to risk the worse case fall out? Can I live with the possible outcome?

Beyond that, regular conversation is the only way to mitigate the risk. This is the relationship version of flossing your teeth so you don’t get a cavity, but even then, things can go sideways. But checking in before things are bad can help a lot.

And keep in mind that even if you have a great written agreement about how you will handle the relationship: if you get to the point that you have to pull out this operating agreement to solve the conflict, then you have already lost.

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