Rosa Nelly Trevinyo-Rodríguez Source: Courtesy
When we invite “in-laws” to work in the family business, the result tends to be mixed: While some detail how excellent the signing was and how well it served them, others share horror stories that lead to divorces. And, if the rules are not clear, relationships can become complicated, hostile and permanently wear out.
What to do then? The first thing is to evaluate the professional well (very well) —to judge the potential collaborator objectively; not see him as the father or mother of my grandchildren but as a “future partner”. Ask yourself: If you were to choose a partner, would you select this person? Does the company need this partner? Why and for what? Are you technically trained? What value will it bring to the business? Can you follow orders? What consequences could involving him have? What do other family members who work for the company think of the potential signing of other children?
If, after evaluating the consequences and possible scenarios, you conclude that the professional is worth it and decide to hire your son-in-law or daughter-in-law, I recommend taking care of — at least — the following:
1. Define who is who in the family business. Set roles. Specify where we are family and where boss-collaborator. Talk about desired, permissible and intolerable behaviors and attitudes in the workplace. Specify the responsibilities of the position, the space and margin of operation (avoid invading roles), the evaluation format that will be followed, the compensation that will be awarded and under what conditions would it be possible to consider inviting you out.
two. Analyze the hierarchy. Make clear the organization chart and lines of authority — who reports to whom; what decisions each one makes; who should suggest or even order. And it is that, while in the family environment the relationship will be “you to you” (equal); In the family business, we will be — initially — unequal (partner / boss-collaborator).
3. Reflect on family and business dynamics. Evaluate the impact that the new employee will have on the children who are already working in the business. Will they get along? Will they support you? Will they be at the same hierarchical level or will one report to the other? Regardless of your performance in the operation, Some children who have participated for a few years in the family business develop, what we call, a sense of psychological ownership (they judge that they have acquired rights and a privileged status); so, the arrival of an in-laws can sometimes cause rivalries or even comparisons ie “you are paying him more than me”; “If you help her and push her to grow… What about me? I’m your daughter”.
Four. Establish limits in the couple dynamics. As a husband or wife, we should not expect our spouse to intercede for us with the father-in-law, mother-in-law or brother @ (business owners). The spouse is “in the middle”. Every time you go to complain, at home, about your boss or colleagues at work, remember that they are your spouse’s father / mother and siblings. Let’s avoid unloading with our partner. If we do it, the moment will come when the tension will be such that, or they mark limits — example: “I fix that with my dad; Don’t tell me ”or the couple’s relationship will end up being unnecessarily stressed and consumed.
5. Succession. Am I hiring my son-in-law or daughter-in-law to lead this business in the future? If so, prepare the way well. Collaborating must be able to show their talent, perform their functions, earn legitimacy and demonstrate what they are capable of. It is not enough that you have an idea in your head, the family business and your family must be prepared to receive it.
In the family business, the easiest thing is to let in; and the difficult thing, invariably, is asking out. So, think hard before opening the front door!
The author is a Partner of Trevinyo-Rodríguez & Asociados, Founder of the Centro de Empresas Familiares del TEC de Monterrey and Member of the Council of Family Businesses in the Medical, Oil and Retail sectors.
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