This Aunty B classic first appeared on September 12, 2007.
Dear Aunty B,
Dad wants a job. Should I hire him?
I run a cool software company in Port Melbourne. All the staff are under 30: I am the old man at 35. It is an open-plan office with a very informal culture. We have billiards, a games room and hang out with each other.
My Dad recently retired at 58 after 20 years working for Telstra, and wants to come and work for my business. I am wary about hiring family but he has great accounting skills – and I really need to let my bookkeeper go and put in some proper systems.
He also gives good advice and I would like to have him around. On the other hand he is a bit authoritarian, likes Tom Jones and can barely work a computer.
First rule of business: don’t hire friends or family. Entrepreneurs tell us one of the biggest mistakes they ever make is hiring friends and family. On the other hand, one of the most satisfying things you can do in business is work well with family members.
So let’s say you are going to break the first rule and hire your old man. That means you have to set some ground rules.
Sit your Dad down and explain that your culture is very different to Telstra. Decisions will be made quickly and efficiently and the office is a fun place to work. You don’t want this culture changed.
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Your Dad must be given a clear job description and told not to meddle. He is never to talk over you, pull rank or tell stories about you when you were little.
He is never to complain about bad language, hair length or the corporate attire (lack of) of your staff.
Given that he has authoritarian tendancies, he must report to you and it would be preferable if he briefed you before meetings and didn’t attend himself.
While his job will be to keep you on the straight and narrow, he is not to introduce ridiculous, complex big company systems and slow everything down.
Last rule: he is to stay in his corner office most of the day and above all, never bring Tom Jones into the office or talk about going to one of his concerts.
If he agrees to adhere to your rules, hire him. He is doesn’t, suggest he starts his own business. You might both be happier.
Your Aunty B