Your Child May Not be a Good Fit for your Business
What are the criteria that leads you to believe that your son or daughter should enter your business? For one thing, there’s a difference between children that come into the business to work and contribute, versus those that rise to the level of leadership.
Basically, here’s the question. I’m a mom or dad. I’m 40, or 50, or 60 years old and my young person is leaving college or whatever and is thinking about entering the family business. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it’s neither. It’s neutral. It just is. What would be good is if the young person comes into the family business as a contributor. But if the person comes into the family business because they can’t get a job anywhere else, or they create a morale problem, or they, all of a sudden, come in and have special privileges that other employees their age don’t have, that’s going to create a problem for you.
When considering allowing your children to come into the business, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
Does he or she have a passion for the business? If it’s no, they should find opportunities elsewhere. If it’s yes, we move to the next question.
Does he or she have the right core values and skills? If it’s no, other opportunities. If it’s yes again, move to the next question.
Is he or she teachable, and along with that, are they willing to learn from parents as well as the other key employees? If it’s no, find another opportunity. If yes, go to the fourth question.
Is there an adequate opportunity for a win-win meeting between this young person and us for short and long-term objectives? Will you and your child both benefit from them working for you, or are we just making a place for this kid to earn a paycheck while he or she is looking for something else? Again, if it’s no, they need to find another opportunity.
Of course, you can help them as a parent. Why wouldn’t you? But, at the same time, your business isn’t the place to do it. It’s not a charity. It’s not a place to teach people values and skills and such that they should have learned a long time ago. If there’s a yes to each of these four questions, your son or daughter might be a good fit for the family business. But if any of them are a no, then see if there are any other opportunities with which the family business can help, or the parents who own or run the business can help.
Now, let’s say the young person comes in to the family business. Everything is running smoothly. You’ve answered yes to the four questions in the first part of this article. Now there are another series of questions to ask yourself, to determine if your child should be eligible to be a leader in your business?
Is your child a good cultural fit with your organization? Not just do they fit with you, but the all the other human beings, and the culture and values that you have already established?
Does he or she have the genuine capability to build both a business and an organization? A business is one thing. Stuff comes in one end and goes out the other. That’s a business. Keeping score, making money, all that. Building an organization means building people. Does that person have the capability to attract talent, manage talent, continue to grow the organization in order to build and sustain the culture that you’ve built?
Does he or she have the leadership skills to move the needle? If the child who is going to come into a leadership role is a placeholder, and will just maintain the status quo in the business, you will probably need a little more firepower than that, especially in the long run. If you think about it, let’s say mom and dad are already running the business and earning commensurate wages. But now if you have another leader, that means three hogs feeding from that trough. If they don’t move the needle, it’s really not enough money to go around for everybody. That’s one practical consideration right there.
If your young person meets those four criteria, then they are a good fit in the family business, and will make a good leader in the business as well.
These questions should help you take the emotion out of your decision, and be a little more rational and deliberative about whether your young people should even come into the business, as well as whether they should they rise to the level of leadership in the family business.