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Oh brother

Policies must be established, followed when working with family members

Posted: Sunday, February 05, 2006

Some might say that nepotism makes the world go 'round, while others would beg to differ. Business relationships are always a somewhat tricky matter - especially when you add family into the mix.

Amy C. Baker, author of "Succeed at Work Without Sidetracking Your Faith: Seven lessons of Career Excellence for Women" (New Hope, $17.99) says that conflicts will inevitably arise at work, however, proceed with caution when dealing with members of the family business.

"When you're caught in a mess with the boss's daughter or nephew, there are two approaches - one is to stay out of the way, and choose to focus on one's own job and performance," she explains. "Generally speaking, poor performers eventually suffer the consequences of their lack of results, even if they're related to the boss."

Family affair

Many of us have heard horror stories of the CEO's ill-equipped grandson taking over the company, even though another employee may be more qualified for the job. In that case, Baker recommends utilizing the company's conflict resolution procedures.

"Many companies have an ombudsman or human resources team that is dedicated to helping resolve conflict," she says. "Having their assistance will help diffuse the added tension resulting from nepotism."

If your employer does not have a procedure in place, Baker suggests respectfully approaching your boss with the facts in an unemotional manner. Making notes of the actions or situation that is preventing you from accomplishing your duties, says Baker, is best preceded by saying, "I have observed..." or, "I think..." Though it might not be easy to keep your emotions out of it, presenting your case in a business like manner can give your boss a clear idea of the situation at hand.

Be real

Les McKeown, president and CEO of Predictable Success, an organizational development company based in Marblehead, Mass., says taking a realistic approach is best.

"Don't assume your long history of loyalty to Dad or Auntie will trump the spotty kid's relationship - it won't," he explains. "Don't confuse your resentment with incompetence on their part. Just because they got the job in a manner you don't approve of, doesn't necessarily prove they're incompetent."

- Lisa Radke



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