Every once in a while, somebody you really want to keep leaves the organization. In a family-owned business, it may be a family member or a non-family member. As you can imagine, that does make a difference.
Sometimes people who leave want to come back. There are all kinds of legitimate reasons justifying bringing a person back. Business knowledge and expertise, succession path and family harmony are just a few. In deciding whether or not to bring someone back, consider the answers to these questions as a basis for your decision:
- Why did the person leave? Most of us have left a job for a variety of reasons. Sometimes for opportunity. Sometimes because we were upset with a manager. Sometimes because what we really wanted opened up someplace else. Sometimes . . . just because it’s time. As you consider re-employment, pay close attention to motivation and interest. Those factors will be crucial to further success.
- What’s different about the person or the business today than before? This requires an objective appraisal of the person and the business. Get several people involved in the interview process and make sure the person you’re talking to today is going to be able to bring more to the table than s/he took away when leaving. If nothing about either the person or the business has changed, you may be headed for a second shipwreck.
- Does this person add value to the Family? To the Business? No business success is worth a family failure. In some cases, that may mean the owners have to play the role of the prodigal parents. If there’s a way to bring a child back into the business that doesn’t foster entitlement and disharmony among the family, then by all means do so. However, if the opposite is true, then look for other ways to provide the wayward with a means to a living. It’s a tough call. Blood is thick with unconditional love; and it’s hard to turn away from a close family member. But the family isn’t a business, and the business isn’t a family. Performance counts.
There are, of course, other questions that you can ask. But these three will give you plenty to think about as you decide how to shape the future.