November 1, 2014

Should You Hire Family Members?

sedin brothers

I get asked this question all the time, especially when people glance at our staff list and recognize that we have family members on our team.

Let me state right up front that my response today is not based on a “leadership principle”. These are simply questions I’ve thought through carefully in our hiring practices.

So even as we enter this conversation let me urge you to simply work your way through these questions as you consider your own position on hiring family.

1. What do the “experts” say about hiring family?

In my reading the jury is still out. Many leaders I respect say to never hire family members, because it can lead to office jealousies, blurring of family/employment lines etc. Others strongly encourage the practice, citing reasons of shared culture, loyalty, and so on.

2. Are there biblical examples to draw on?

Yes…on both sides of the conversation. Proponents point to successful ministry teams comprised of brothers, such as Moses and Aaron, Peter and Andrew, James and John. Others point out that, from a ministry point of view, Joseph’s relationship with his 11 brothers was just a tad dysfunctional.

3. What’s the best part of hiring family?

In my experience there is shared culture, history, loyalty, even humour.

4. What are the risks?

  • You need to be sure other staff do not perceive favouritism among family members,
  • You need to be able to set aside family dynamics when it’s time for “tough conversations”,
  • If you ever have to fire a family member, well, Christmas dinner could be a bit awkward.

5. How should being a family member impact the hiring process?

It should have little or no bearing. My own philosophy is “hire the best person available”. Being a member of one’s family should neither push a candidate to the front of the line, nor disqualify them from consideration.

I’d love your input in the conversation. Where do you land on the question of hiring family?

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