A family member involved in any business should be a model employee and nothing less.
Day in, day out, this person's behavior and performance should stifle any suspicions that family connections are the sole reason he or she has a job.
Regular Tire Business readers may recall that I've urged owners and managers to cultivate a team culture, an esprit de corps or camaraderie among the staff. Field experience has convinced me businesses enjoying long-term success usually have groomed cohesive teams — from tire busters to top technicians and managers.
Meanwhile, experience also has shown that one of the fastest ways to disrupt or destroy a cohesive workforce is to hire an incompetent and/or disagreeable relative. The notion or suspicion that someone's come aboard solely due to family connections is toxic to teamwork.
Simply put, bringing in a relative may breed more discontent than you bargained for — especially among your most valuable workers.
In several weeks, I'll mark my 27th year writing this column. I have gathered countless topics for it during my travels around the country. Typically, simply observing and listening shows me the news. Over the years, coping with family members has been one of the most persistent topics raised by managers and workers alike.
Their concerns follow the same pattern, regardless of the facility — tire dealer, service shop, etc. — or the region of the country. Namely, they believe they have to tiptoe around a family member who cannot or will not pull his or her own weight, period.
In some instances, employees have told me this family member is capable and talented. However, the person also is insufferably arrogant. He or she projects an image of privilege and entitlement. Therefore, the person didn't mesh well with the rest of the crew.
Personally, I've watched several businesses suffer as their crew's cohesiveness dissolved, regardless of the reason that happened. The boss may not realize it, but he or she has a problem when workers no longer enjoy coming to work in the morning — not to mention that the root cause is the blood relative they hired.
It's instinctive for some bosses to say, “I'll do what I want because my name's on the building.”
I respond with a simple truism: Money talks! Good help is hard to find. Losing good help costs tire dealers and service shop operators money, both today and over the long term. Profits also suffer when unhappy employees don't feel motivated or respected any more.
Hmmm…could the root causes of these issues be the family member you hired?
The straightforward solution is that family members among your crew should do their tasks well, without complaints. They should be humble and grateful to have a job. Basically, these people should fly below the proverbial radar by being indistinguishable from their fellow employees.
Having them work their way up in the business doesn't hurt.
Furthermore, the members of your family have to earn and then maintain the entire team's respect. They can accomplish this by living the example of a desirable and unselfish worker.
For instance, they should be among the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave every day. They should do their share of common chores such as scrubbing floors, picking up trash, etc.
In other words, be sure the son, daughter or relative you hire for your business doesn't act like some automotive prima donna.
If they behave in any way that suggests entitlement or privilege, counsel them privately. And make sure you lay down the law: They've got to set the example for everyone.
A variety of my friends and colleagues in the automotive business are second- and third-generation family employees. Yet, they're very conscious of their roles in and responsibilities to the business and its staff.