The Biblical assertion” to whom much is given, much is required” certainly applies to family member employees. Although the doorway to a career may be open and inviting, the pathway of family member employees has many challenges. No doubt, earning respect is a formidable task. As previously discussed, many of these challenges are good as they separate the pretenders from contenders. However, family member employees do not need handicaps. There is no reason to add unnecessary frustration, stress and humiliation to the inherently bumpy road that they must endure to achieve the training and experience needed to become a successor.  

Everyone associated with the business has a vested interest in the identification, preparation and confirmation of the successor(s). I offer these “Ten FME Management Suggestions” to everyone in a position to impact the successful matriculation of potential family successor: 

  1. A family member’s first real job should not be in the family’s business. It is a challenge to manage employees if you’ve never been one. 
  2. Don’t allow a family member to fail into the family’s business. If not successful as a real employee, don’t bail them out. The last thing a business needs is a family member employee with bad habits or attitudes. 
  3. Position and pay new family member employees according to their education and prior work experience. Don’t think you can fake experience because within 15 minutes of employment, everyone will know the truth. 
  4. Require family member employees to start at the bottom of their hire-in level to learn the culture and earn the respect of those they will hopefully be leading in the future. There is no sustainable elevator to the corner office; all family members should take the steps. 
  5. Pay family members according to the contribution they make to the business mission. Equal compensation for family members having unequal impact upon the mission is problematic. 
  6. Encourage family members to live within their blessing (earnings). If they require more money than they are earning to maintain an acceptable lifestyle, provide this income outside of compensation so that they never misunderstand the impact they are having on the mission. 
  7. Constantly reaffirm to family members that they are role models for the attitude, behavior and commitment you expect from employees. 
  8. Don’t require family members to be mind readers. Adopt and communicate Family Member Performance Expectations that appropriately describes role model attitude and behavior that is expected of them. 
  9. Do not allow a family member to report to another family member. Try to keep accountability as objective as possible. 
  10. Require supervisors of family members to provide monthly performance reviews for the first year. Thereafter, provide quarterly reviews for the next four years or until there is no doubt that they “get it.” 

These Ten Family Member Employee Management Suggestions may seem like an awkward way of interacting with family, but they will preclude many problems in the family business.

 Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay informed on how to overcome related succession planning issues.