Discussing Poor Performance with a Family Member
When discussing performance issues, start with an honest list of their strengths and what they’re doing well. Always try to find something right in what they are doing, and compliment them on it to reinforce what they are doing right. Once you have identified their strengths, discuss opportunities for them to improve their performance. If you have identified shortcomings, relate them to the expectations you laid out in the Family Participation Plan. From here, utilize what makes a family business special: your personal connection. As family, you and your employee are in a unique position to understand more about each other than almost anyone else. You understand each other’s emotions, goals, talents, weaknesses, and habits. However, do not lose sight of the problem you need to address. With your family member/employee, turn a performance review into a two-way conversation. Identify what they want out of the job, how this job fits into their life goals, and how they are utilizing their talents. If you feel they can improve at their current position, help lay the groundwork for them to reach their goals. If they would be better suited for another position, discuss how that may better fit into their life path. And if, worse comes to worst, the business is simply not the right fit for this family member, reaffirm your love and commitment to their wellbeing while offering your unique insight into where else they can best use their talents.
These discussions—whether they involve performance review, retraining, or even dismissal—are always difficult even for purely professional relationships, but for family businesses they can be uniquely stressful on several different levels. For advice on opening up these discussions or setting up Family Participation Planning session, contact Hubler for Business Families today to set up a free orientation meeting with Thomas Hubler, the expert on family business planning.