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Andi Gray: Special rules for family?

Andi GrayMy sister is family, but she is also an employee. And she comes and goes when she wants. When she’s here, she does a good job. But it’s the example I’m worried about. Everyone else here has to arrive on time and stay to the end of the day. If they’re constantly late, if they disappear during the day or if they leave early, they end up on probation, and if it keeps up they lose their job. No one in the family seems to want to deal with my sister’s work habits. Seems to me the family should be living up to a higher standard. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Figure out your sister’s contribution. Hold a family meeting and set work rules. Define what happens if family members take advantage. Clarify reporting lines. Building equity into work rules when it comes to family members will help with employee respect, retention and long-term satisfaction.

Is your sister’s job properly classified? Is she hourly or exempt, full time or part time? Is her pay scale appropriate for her job?

Often exemptions are allowed to level the playing field. For example, someone makes a greater contribution than their job classification and pay scale. To “make things right,” instead of adjusting the job or pay scale, someone decided to tolerate extra paid time off.

Should your sister be working part time? She may have agreed to a part-time schedule and then become valuable enough that she gets asked to work more hours. It may be that the hours she’s working exceed what she thinks is fair, and so she takes off when she maxes out the hours she’s willing to work.

Another possibility is that the job she’s doing requires her to be out of the office during the day, for example, in sales, customer support or field operations. Or she has a job that she can do from home and has taken the liberty of setting things up to do just that. So she’s actually working, just not where anyone can see her.

Ask your sister for the facts about what’s going on. Is she working when she’s not in the office? Is she taking time off because she prefers to work part time? How does she report her hours and report on the work she does? Or is she milking the system?

Ask family members to convene a board meeting to discuss work rules. When are employees allowed to work from home? How should employees report in when they’re out in the field? What’s the difference between classifying employees as part time versus full time?

Ask the family to propose and vote on rules about what to do if a family member steps out of line. Under what conditions are they asked to leave the company? What kind of warning do they get? Who in the family steps in as disciplinarian — or is there a governance council that meets with the person?

Everyone in the family should report to someone. Figure out who your sister’s position logically reports to. Make certain her “boss” knows it’s OK to manage issues of work hours, responsibilities and reporting in. If there’s a problem make sure your sister’s boss knows who in the family to go to for advice.

Help your sister to view the other side of the coin. What do employees see regarding her behavior? What kinds of problems do exceptions create when it comes to retaining and attracting other good employees who value fairness and equity? What will the family tolerate going forward?

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “Human Resources in the Family Business, Maximizing the Power of Your People” by David Ransburg, Wendy Sage-Hayward and Amy Schuman.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535 or AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.


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