Workplace Wisdom

Managing an Underperformer in a Family Business

This article originally appeared on hbr.org.

In family businesses, leaders sometimes make hiring and staffing decisions based on relationship and obligation as much as on competence and experience. After all, one purpose of these firms is to provide employment for family members. But that doesn’t mean all family members perform effectively. A few may feel so entitled or untouchable that they slack off or stop collaborating, and sometimes they get a pass for their mistakes or behaviors. At times, they may even be disruptive to the smooth running of the business.

As a manager, whether you’re part of the family or not, what do you do about these under-performers?

The good news is that even though you don’t always have the leeway to manage a family member in the same way as an unrelated employee, you don’t have to stifle your concerns. There are several productive approaches you can take to make the best out of an uncomfortable situation while reducing the disruption and risk caused by someone who is no longer effective — or may never have been to begin with.

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