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Updated 16 Jan 2021

Your success rests on appointing the best person for the job

Sometimes, in haste, or through good intentions, the wrong person is hired. Depending on the position that this ‘bad-hire’ occupies in your business, it may make the difference between success or failure. 

Dr. Amanda Hamilton-Attwell, 11 November 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

You have started your business and things are progressing well. The projects and orders are coming in, as you are doing the marketing, selling, distribution and the finances yourself. But, you’ve realised that you need support, and the availability of an unemployed friend seems to be the solution. Does this scenario sound familiar? 

The pitfalls of employing friends and family

The reality is that people bring their personal lives to work and take their work into their personal lives. The problem starts when things are not working out between you and your friend, or family member, and you have to face each other at a social event.

There is a saying that you cannot un-ring a bell. Once friends become involved in your business and requirements and expectations collide, you will lose more than a friend. Do not go there. 

Related: 5 Tips to hiring the best employees

When to appoint a friend 

The only time you should consider appointing a friend, or family member, is if the person applied for a position after you have identified it as part of the strategic plan for your business. 

If the person was appropriately interviewed and found competent, you can consider him/her, but only if you lay down the rules for the business relationship, before signing an employment contract. 

Criteria for appointing the right employee 

Criteria -for -appointing -the -right -employee-

Your criteria for appointing an employee, especially your first one, should include: 

Be strategic

Your strategic plan should indicate a need for an employee, not your level of activity. How busy you are may be the consequence of bad time management, not the need for an employee.

Competence is not negotiable

The employee must be able to contribute to the growth of the business and not be a burden. Be it a labourer, a sales person or an engineer, the person must be competent to do the work. Asking if he/she can do a specific job will give you a ‘yes’ answer, which means nothing. 

Rather ask the person how he/she will handle a specific situation or sell a specific product. This will enable you to determine if the person is capable of adding value to your business. In the early stage of your business, you do not have the luxury of training a person - your employee must hit the ground running. 

Related: Hiring: the when, where and how

Appoint on contract

Do not make long-term appointments during the early stages of your business. Rather appoint a person on a contract basis. This will ensure that the employee is not a burden on your business. 

It can be a challenge to persuade a person to accept such an appointment. However, the person will also realise that if the business grows sufficiently, as a result of his/her contribution, there will be work in the long-term. There are many instances where employees’ work ethics have changed from the interview until they’ve become comfortable in the role. 

Making the wrong appointment early on, just because your friend or a family member needed a job, can land you in trouble. Often, the best intentions can lead to bigger challenges down the road. Make all appointments strategically and you’ll succeed at growing your workforce.

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About the author

Dr. Amanda Hamilton-Attwell

Dr Amanda Hamilton-Attwell is the founder and Executive Director of Business DNA – a business consultancy. She has extensive experience in small business development. Amanda was awarded fellow status of the Gauteng North Chamber of Commerce and Industry for her contribution to the development of business. The National Youth Development Agency contracted her to conduct research into the factors determining the success of entrepreneurs. She completed an internationally acclaimed programme in business coaching. Contact details: [email protected], 012-346-2600 or

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