Couples working together
Couples working together face a whole new set of questions surrounding HR issues. Hiring and firing is no exception.
Consider this situation – It’s finally happened, you and your spouse are dealing with an employee whose performance just isn’t up your accounting firms standards. You’ve given this employee plenty of chances, she knows she’s on a 30 day plan, now the time has come to cut ties and let her go.
There’s only one problem – your spouse isn’t on-board.
You know letting this employee go is the right thing to do, and you can’t stand the idea of employing her for one more day. What do you do?
Here’s another scenario for you – your spouse feels strongly about hiring a certain candidate for an accounting position in your company; however, you don’t believe it’s the right fit. Who gets the final say?
These tricky situations arise in accounting firms of every size. Couples working together realize making certain decisions together is even trickier. Heated emotions create tension which could easily follow you home.
Laying ground rules helps you and your spouse avoid conflict in the moment. Similar to workplace policies, this sets hard and fast rules aimed to diffuse emotional situations.
Ground Rules to Consider
Interview Candidates Separately and Together
Ever hear, just take my word for it! when recommending a candidate for hire? That’s not a situation you want to put yourself or your spouse in. Why not? You’re basically setting yourself up for conflict.
Think of it this way, if the candidate turns out to be a dud, then whose fault is it? Or if the candidate is a fantastic hire, then who gets all the praise? You want hiring decisions to be equal and agreed upon. Losing an employee is expensive and onboarding a new employee is also expensive – this is a financial decision you’ll want to make together.
Conduct interviews both separately and together. That’s because you’re then in agreement. If you’re comfortable with the candidate in one-on-one situations as well as when you’re all together, this ensures culture fit.
Establish a Policy About Hiring Family and Friends
Family and friends is an extremely tricky subject! Some couple-owned businesses like to involve family and friends whenever possible and some avoid this like the plague. We’re not here to tell you to do one thing or another. Establish a friends and family policy with your spouse ahead of time.
By deciding up-front whether you’ll even entertain the idea of hiring people you know, you’ll save yourself from future controversy. However, if you do decide to allow friends and family to work at your company, you need to discuss the pros and cons of the situation every time it comes up. Think through the decision to hire a friend or a family member. Both of you ought to be in agreement here.
Respect your partner’s point of view. If your spouse doesn’t feel comfortable with making that hire, then discuss the concerns. Think of it this way, will you be jeopardizing company culture for the sake of hiring this one individual? If so, it’s not a good hire. Ask yourself that question even when it’s not family or friends you’re hiring.
Don’t Act Unless You’re in Agreement
Firing someone is a big decision. Not only does this impact your firm financially as you have to go back through the hiring and training process, but this also impacts the person you’re firing. Unless something illegal or unethical has happened, this needs to be a very calculated decision. Develop a hiring and firing policy which outlines warnings and second chances. And if you don’t have an employee handbook, then you may want to create one.
Sit down with your spouse to outline the pros and cons of firing this particular employee. Then make your decision together. Again, you never want to build resentment between one another. Ideally, you want to agree that this is the best decision for your firm.
Keep in mind that the company is only as strong as the weakest individual on its team. If your weakest link is in danger of breaking the chain, it’s probably time to agree to let them go. Our rule of thumb for couples working together is never to sacrifice the entire organization because of one individual. The company’s health and culture is our top priority.
Leave Your Emotions at Home
The hiring and firing process can be highly emotional, both for you, your spouse and your employee – but leave those emotions at the door. Best practice for hiring or firing focuses on how your accounting firm’s needs will be met and how well a person fits into your culture, period. Base your decision to fire on factual information, period.
If you or your spouse becomes too emotional about hiring and firing, take a step back. What you don’t want to do is say you’re getting too emotional! because that’ll increase the tension. Get to the root of the issue by saying something like how will our firm benefit from hiring this person? if you’re looking at a potential hire. When considering a potential termination, ask do you think this person is a bad fit for our firm?
People naturally avoid conflict. Instead of firing someone you both know you should, you hold onto them for too long simply to avoid potential conflict. Don’t fall victim to this! It’s possible your spouse is thinking the same thing you are. Say what’s on your mind.
Will you or your spouse ever make a hiring or firing decision you regret? Probably. Don’t hold these things over each other’s heads. Emphasize a future-focus instead. Couples working together will grow together. Choose to support one other to make better, more logical decisions going forward.
If you remain patient during the learning curve, create boundaries and become each other’s support system, your accounting firm will flourish in ways you never imagined. Plus, your personal relationship will strengthen from the intensity of working together. And in the end, if you find it impossible to deal with conflicts, a business coach can help you smooth out the rough edges. If you’re considering hiring your husband, and want some guidance, let’s talk. I offer a complimentary discovery session.