performance review

Conducting Performance Reviews for Family Members

Here’s a question we were asked recently:

“How do you give a performance review to a family member employee who is under-performing?”

Watch the video to hear Rob and Brandi answer the question or scroll down to read.

Giving constructive performance feedback can be challenging in the best of situations.

But it’s especially difficult when you factor in the family relationship. They might be a sibling you grew up with, a son or daughter, or a father or mother who raised you.

It’s been our experience that many leaders avoid these difficult conversations so that they can maintain harmony within the family.

The problem is that these issues rarely go away on their own. Instead, it gets worse.

Then when you finally confront them, guess what? They don’t show up for Thanksgiving dinner! Now you created dysfunction. Not only in the business, but within the family as well.

Here are our top 3 tips for managing family member performance in the business.

1. Make a commitment to be a business-first family

When you adopt the philosophy of being a business-first family, you put the best interests of the 150 employees in the business ahead of the one family member.

When done the right way (collaboratively as a family) everyone commits to treating family member employees in the same way you treat all employees. This means family member performance is measured and evaluated using the same processes and procedures you’d use with anyone else.

Because they’ve already agreed to this philosophy, that decision and commitment makes it much easier to have the confidence and courage to have the tough conversation.

2. Address performance issues when they happen and use it as a positive learning moment

Your family member employee needs to know that they’re not meeting expectations.

It’s best to always address performance issues close to the time when they happen.

Don’t save it until their yearly performance review. When you do that, it can feel like a bunch of bricks stacked up and dropped on their head.

Instead, deal with it early and use it as a positive learning moment.

Ask: What did you learn from that? How would you do it differently next time?

3. Make a habit of catching people doing things right!

If you want better performance in the future, try to catch people doing things right, as opposed to only focusing on catching people doing things wrong.

When someone performs beyond your expectations, recognize that performance!

You can do this with positive comments: “Wow Sally, you did a great job. I didn’t think we’d ever get that account landed – and you did it! Congratulations, good job.”

In some circumstances, you might also provide some sort of reward.

One of the most fun things that any leader can do is to pass out rewards, incentives, or bonuses.

Some situations call for getting an outside perspective

Especially when issues have been longstanding or emotions are running high, it can be hard for family members to look beyond their personal relationships to focus on the business at hand.

In these cases, it can be helpful to have a neutral third party facilitate the discussions, provide feedback, and arrive at solutions. This is one of the many services that we offer to our clients.

As specialists in advising family businesses, we’ve worked with families experiencing a wide range of emotions – from trust, love, and affection – to resentment, jealousy, and rivalry. If you think you could use some support with a tricky family situation, book a free consultation call with one of our advisors. We’d love to help.

Free Video: Managing Talent in a Family Business

What you need to attract, hire, and nurture the best people

What you'll learn:

  • The challenges of talent management and why it is critical to family businesses prosperity
  • The importance of finding and developing cultural competence
  • Choosing the right family members to get the right mix of family and non-family talent
  • The four components of talent management

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