8 Steps to Consider When Hiring a Friend
I see it often: a good friend is down on his luck, unable to find a new employer and getting low on cash and high on credit card debt. To the rescue comes a good friend, maybe even a best friend, and in most cases, a business owner. Because they own the shop, they are in charge and able to offer this down-trodden-buddy a lifeline. It’s human nature. It’s the Christian thing to do, right? Well maybe. But in many cases these “hire-a-friend” scenarios head south and the once, “best” friends, no longer speak to each other.
Here is a list of 8 things that you should consider and implement if you do decide to move forward and hire your friend:
- Don’t! I just had to throw that in there as one last warning. Before you go down the road of hiring your friend, think about some other options. What can you do to help them find a job in a different company? Who can you call? Whom can you introduce them to? Can you pay for them to get some additional job training? Only after you have thought about the possible options and come up dry, advance to point #2.
- Seek wise counsel You might be the owner but owners have been known to make mistakes. Whom can you turn to for some wise counsel? Maybe you have a board of directors or board of advisors. Maybe you are in a peer advisory group or a Bible study. Or, it’s your Saturday morning golf foursome. As long as you trust these individuals, explain the situation to them and then just listen. Don’t be defensive!
- Do a SWOT analysis Get out a piece of paper, and divide it into 4 quadrants. Let’s think about this friend that we are about to hire: what are their strengths and weakness? If you hire them where might the potential threat be? And what opportunities does this new “headcount” bring to your company and team? Reflect on your analysis and show it to someone you trust. Is your SWOT realistic?
- Write a solid job description It is very important that you invest the time and energy to develop a very specific job description. Share it with your “candidate” and make sure both of you are on the same page. This document is the “rules of the road”, the guardrails, an agreement of expectations.
- Do not have them report to you! If you are a small company this might be hard to achieve, but it is imperativethat your friend not report to you. Make this clear to him/her very early in your discussions. This must be a deal-breaker. This is not only important for the relationship you have to your friend but also to the respect and credibility you have in the company.
- Pay a competitive salary and offer normal benefits What is the value of this position in the market place? Pay your friend a fair salary, not a dime more. If you do, word will get out and then you have a credibility problem.
- Do a behavioral assessment There are many good tools out there (I prefer PDP) and they will help you better understand the behaviors and attitudes of this new hire. If the assessment shows that they really aren’t a good fit for the role or your company, then pull the breaks now. If you don’t then you are setting your friend and yourself up for a painful ending. As part of the on-boarding process, I would also suggest that you do a behavioral assessment of your friend’s new manager. Then, during the first week of employment, introduce the two to each other and discuss how they are similar or different. How do they make decisions, communicate, their leadership style, energy level, etc. This will help to put their relationship on a solid foundation.
- Announce Develop an organizational announcement together with your friend. If your organization is small, I would suggest that you are open about your relationship. People will find out. This is where the reporting relationship will be important. Employees will want to be assured that their new colleague has to play by the same rules as they do.
You are embarking on a road with a lot of potholes. Keep your eyes on the road and good luck!