This discussion relates to the second half of the Philosophy section developed by the Wilson family. As you review the elements below, I encourage you to think about the discussions the family must have had in the process of arriving at the statement.

“We subscribe to the philosophy that the opportunity to be employed in our company must be earned; it is not a birthright. (8) Our business succeeds best when professional competence is the criterion for entrance to employment. (9) Further, high-level competence must be supported by a sustained performance record. (10) We believe that family members who cannot meet these standards will be happiest when employed elsewhere. (11)

(8) Entitlement in family business is almost always fatal. It occurs when an individual believes they have a right to a job, regardless of their competence. Employing a less than competent person, family or not, means that all the other employees have to “carry that person.” Employing a less than competent person is the root cause of more family business problems than any other. Someone else always has to pick up the load not carried by that less than competent person. It is the beginning of resentments, overload and more. Watch out!
(9) Stating up front that competence is the criteria sets a very high bar for entry. Better to set a high bar and exclude some from employment than set a low bar and include those less than competent individuals. With a high bar for entry, you simply save yourself a lot of problems.
(10) Requiring “High-level competence and a sustained performance” record means no “flash in the pan” behavior where an individual has one big success but is not consistent. Every job is important and there is no “easy” job. Each employee is expected to do his/her best, each and every time.
(11) High quality performance is the standard. Better to find other work than to be in an environment where you create problems for yourself and others and put family members in the difficult position of having to terminate an employee who happens to be a relative.

The philosophy of this family is that you are expected to work and to do your very best.

Many families equate working in the business as equivalent to membership in the family. This is a serious mistake. Ownership may be viewed as a birthright but that will be discussed in a future blog.