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It's Good to Be King... Until You're Required to Fire the Prince..

One of the good (and bad) things about owning your own small business is that you can hire whomever you want, without all those pesky "employment law" requirements or interviewing/selection "best practices".  After all, you're the boss and you know what needs to happen.


Of course, for small businesses that thrive and grow, you may decide to take on investors.  Depending onDonald_trump the arrangements and structure of your company, that may make things a bit more messy.  You still might be able to hire whomever you want since you're the thought leader, but things like boards with oversight and investors who own a majority stake (you got diluted when you wanted the cash to grow) may want a say when things don't work out. 

What type of say?  How about strong-arming you to fire the family members who aren't cutting it?

I suspect this happens more than we might expect in the business world, as businesses outgrow the skills and experience of the family members who were brought in during the early stages.  A parallel can be found in the sports world, where newly hired coaches usually hire whomever they want, but if things don't go well, often have to fire assistants and bring in new guns in order to save their OWN job.

Case in point?  When things were going well, University of Virginia football coach Al Groh hired his son as his offensive coordinator with limited input.  After three years of bad offense, Groh's been forced, by the administration, to fire his son.

Happy holidays kid-you're fired. Make sure you put in a good word for me with Mom. More on Groh firing his son from the Hampton Roads Pilot:

"Virginia football coach Al Groh announced a series of staff changes Monday that included the departure of his son after three seasons as offensive coordinator.  Al Groh said Mike Groh and defensive line coach Levern Belin "will pursue career opportunities." A third assistant, Steve Bernstein, is retiring after 38 seasons as a college coach.

In a prepared statement, Groh cited the " commitment, integrity and loyalty" of the three and added, "I appreciate them and their efforts."  Groh also said the moves should not be seen as assigning blame to the three for U.Va.'s mediocre 2008 season.

"There are no scapegoats here," he said. "The head coach is responsible for the team."

The direction of the offense has been the topic of considerable discussion among fans and media. U.Va. has not finished among the top 100 Division I-A teams in total offense since Mike Groh took over for Ron Prince after the 2005 season.

In a way, Groh's experience is a good lesson - always get the best talent available, and if you're going to help the family, do it in a position that's within their capabilities and doesn't hurt them professionally in the long term.

Welcome to the big leagues.  If you have the power to hire your own son, you're more than likely going to be in a position to have to fire your own son.  Can you imagine that Christmas dinner table?

While I'm at it, let me shoot down a rumor before it gets started.  My wife, Angela Dunn, serves as copy editor of the HRC and Fistful of Talent.  She got the job with no interview process whatsoever. No truth to the rumor that I'm going to be forced to fire her by the surly gang of contributors at FOT.

As far as you know...


Marsha Keeffer

Glad to know Angela's job isn't on the line - yet! Nothing could be more painful than firing a relative. This post really made me think about how to best manage working with family members. I think a type of 'biz pre-nup' has to be agreed upon so that there are guiding points for ending the work relationship cleanly if it comes to that.

Michael VanDervort

Very similar situation to what happened at Florida State University last year when Bobby Bowden's son, Jeff Bowden was forced out as Offenisve Coordinator.

Of course, Florida State just made things worse with their next move, which was naming Jimbo Fisher as Bobby's co-Head Coach, and heir apparent. I think the heir apparnt part is ok, but many head coachs/CEOs does one organization need?

Meg Bear

Angela we'd take you any day over at TalentedApps. We are in need of copy edit like you would not believe, but alas we don't actually pay anything or have any fringe benefits either. It's really a get nothing and like it job in our world ;-).

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