Although nearly every church, ministry, or non-profit client I’ve ever known hires their family, I always urge caution when doing it. Sure – there’s nothing we’d all like better than to hire our spouse, children, or other relatives. The idea of a “family company” sounds great. But in truth, it doesn’t work as well as you think. Entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki is direct and too the point, but worth listening to when he says: “Don’t hire your family. The probability that your spouse or relative is the best person you can get for a job is 0%. The probability that people will hate working at a company with spouses and relatives is 100%. Never hire out of expediency. Always hire the best person you can get. This usually means not hiring your family.”
I think Guy is a bit over the top here, but the key issue is the perception. When the leader’s family is on the payroll – especially in spite of one or more being incompetent – it can potentially damage goodwill with employees. Sure there is nothing technically or ethically wrong with it, but it can begin eroding employee trust.
Don’t get me wrong. In many organizations, family members are doing excellent work, and many of these organizations have been our friends and clients. So I’m not 100% against it at all. But I do believe it’s worth thinking about because there are so many stories of failure out there.
I’m writing to encourage you to at least consider the ramifications. Get out of the ministry family bubble and take a cold, hard look at reality – especially the reality of church members, donors, and employee perceptions. It might just change the way you look at the issue.
Sometimes it’s perfectly OK. But other times, it’s a recipe for disaster.