Why Never Work with Family Members?


What should you consider before becoming colleagues with your family members? The pitfalls of such working tandems are discussed in our article.


Not every family member can be a valuable employee. Regardless of whether you have employed a relative or have become someone’s protégé, you may encounter the following difficulties.

1. Limited communication with colleagues

It is unlikely that the colleagues can afford to speak freely about your relative, even if he/she is really worth talking about. They may gossip about their boss, and you will certainly lose nothing in this case, but very few people will tell you about the incompetence of your protégé. Sometimes even quite innocuous comments of your colleagues can do harm and spoil the atmosphere within the team considerably.

2. Too high or too low requirements

You just do not want your family member to be treated leniently. This is reasonable. Everyone should realize that he/she is not a slack worker, and for this purpose you even grant him/her with a little more responsibility, right? The colleagues will certainly appreciate it. But will your relative appreciate this? The opposite situation is when you are aware of the difficult period in your protégé’s life or just love him/her too much and burden other employees with a part of his/her duties. Or you perform them by yourself, sacrificing your own productivity.

3. A conflict of family and work relationship

Does your boss carp you unjustly? One may say it is just his sick child, lack of sleep or a seasonal exacerbation of a chronic illness. This person can be picky, and you know there is nothing serious. Maybe you are wrong, indeed? You could hush up a similar conflict with other colleagues, but you react much tougher in this case: your relative is supposed to understand you better. On the other hand, you may be too patronizing instead of being more demanding.

4. Constant sudden switch from business to family relations

You go to the boss’ office, and your mother welcomes you there. Or exactly the opposite situation: in your spare time you decide to have a chat over a cup of tea and your relative switches to a working mode. In both cases, one of you is losing precious time and the other one spoils the joy of a well-deserved break.

5. Inability to terminate the business relationship in a friendly manner

A careless employee can be deprived of bonuses or even fired, but in this case you must either reconcile or damage the relationship. You may desperately want to change jobs, but they simply cannot stop now and look for someone to replace you. And you stay till the end of the project, and then for another month; then there is a vacation in the nearest future, a quarterly report, and the end of the year. And even after the long-awaited dismissal, you may still be reproached many a time.

6. Waiting for your awareness about the authorities’ plans

Endless questions about bonuses, days off, and the company’s future. If you know the answers, be prepared that someone will understand them in a wrong way, and you will have to deal with the consequences. If you do not know the answers, one can always think that you’re just concealing something.

7. Automatic agreement to any solution suggested by your relative

In a difficult financial situation, it is you who will be asked to swallow your pride and wait. Other employees’ dismay will be treated leniently, whereas you need to understand how bad everything is. Or maybe you do not have enough determination to terminate a dubious project of a dear person, and in the end you will spend the resources on pointless activities.

8. Lack of objective professional judgment

Giving a position to relatives, one often neglects their professional qualifications. The fact that a close relative automatically belongs to the category of good people is the only rule to go by. Getting the job, which does not seem difficult to you, can be a very doubtful achievement for your relative. The responsibility for his/her performance is all yours. For the same reason, you can wait for a promotion indefinitely long. Even as a perfect employee, you can seem a doubtful candidate to your relative just because he/she knows more about you than your manager normally would know.

9. Lack of financial airbags

In a situation when the company performs worse than ever, all the family members working there find themselves without any means of livelihood. Such unpleasant situations immediately become the main theme of your family gatherings and finally force you into a hopeless deadlock.

Yet you should analyze each situation in particular when deciding to work with a dear person, even though the disadvantages are obvious. Sometimes the difference between a great-nephew employed in a neighboring department and the spouse working in the same office is barely distinguishable. Depending on the nature of the work and the family relations, these situations can be equally successful or totally unacceptable.