Working with Friends and Family

At some point in your professional career, you may end up working with a friend or family member. They may be part of your professional network. You may refer them to a position, they may refer you, or you may choose to work together in a family run business. Whatever the reason, working with friends and family members can prove beneficial in some case, but can also cause conflict if you do not approach your working relationship appropriately. If this situation is applicable to you, or you are considering meshing your personal life with your business life, here are a few pros and cons to consider. Why hire friends and family:

1. Because they are a close friend or family member, you can be confident in their ability to perform the job. You have unique insight into their abilities, work ethic and overall character.

2. They may already be familiar with your business, especially if you are working in a family owned or small business. This means they may not require as much on-the-job training as other employees.

3. Because they are vested in your relationship, they are pre-conditioned to be committed to you – and the job, and may be more pre-disposed to work harder and longer hours, if needed.

4. Since they may be a close friend or relative, you may be more comfortable in communicating any constructive feedback you need to provide.

5. They can serve as your confident and sounding board.

Cons of working with friends and family:

1. Because you are friends or you are working with a family member, they may assume that you are willing to work for less money.

2. Since you will see friends and family during off business hours, your business dealings can seep quickly into your personal relationships.

3. Conversely, if any negative issues arise at the office, you can take these negativities with you and this may impact your personal relationship outside of the office.

4. There may be differing expectations for your working relationship, such as expectations of preferential treatment over other co-workers due to your personal relationship.

5. Co-workers may feel slighted if they perceive your treatment towards a friend or family member is more favorable.

6. You may find that your business relationship impacts your friend and family relationship negatively.

The best approach if you are in this position is to remember that regardless of who you are working with, a business relationship should be defined from the onset. Friends and family should be made aware of expectations up-front, and the expectation should be set that they will be required to provide the same level of service and time commitment as other employees. And whenever possible, try to delineate between your work-life and personal life as much as possible when seeing each other outside of the office.

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