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The Dangers of Nepotism in Your Auto Shop


In our last blog we talked about the benefits of employing family members in your auto repair shop. There are many, and they are worth considering if the people in your family are as committed to the success of your business as you are. However, there are a number of reasons to avoid employing, and especially favoring, family members in your business. In this blog piece we will go through the dangers of nepotism.

What is Nepotism? Nepotism is defined as the “Practice of appointing relatives and friends in one’s organization to positions for which outsiders might be better qualified.” Obviously, for any company there are some inherent problems in hiring or retaining people who are less qualified.

Nepotism Can Lead To:

Lower performance – It’s unfortunate but true that many family members, especially the children of managers, will try to manipulate getting better treatment or conditions for themselves at work. Some will demand easier work or better jobs. Others won’t feel they have to follow policies or procedures that are put in place to protect the business and ensure that a fair environment prevails. If people don’t believe the rules apply to them, they’ll show up late, leave early, unload unpleasant work onto others, or just fail to do their jobs in a satisfactory manner. No one who tries to work as little as possible and still expects to be paid is an asset. They will make your business less profitable. In fact, it’s likely that you will have to hire or shift work to do the work they’re not doing – or do it right. Retaining two workers to do the job of one is the definition of inefficiency.

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Management difficulties – If you are the manager and owner of your auto shop and communicate well with your family members and get good performance out of them, that’s great. If, however, someone else has to try to get good performance out of lazy or entitled family members you’ve hired, you will have problems. It’s challenging enough to manage a staff of people with diverse skills, personalities, and needs, but when there are conflicting goals of keeping the peace between family members and getting good performance out of everyone, that’s much harder. No manager should have to be either a family counselor or a parent by proxy. They will resent it, and it will damage the working relationship between owner and manager.

Conflict between employees – Hiring family members can have a negative impact on shop morale. Can you ensure that you will treat your family members exactly the same as the other people who work in your shop? It’s hard to be objective about the work or performance of someone you care about. Other employees will resent if they feel they are more qualified than your family members, but you promote or pay your family members better. Most people want equal or fair treatment. If they feel they are not getting it, they will complain, slack off on the job, or quit. You do not want to lose good employees because you’re favoring your relatives.

Drama at work – Family members often have complicated relationships, and bad behavior that starts at home can overlap into the workplace. Many people unconsciously favor their family members at work, but others can be extra hard on their relatives as a way of trying to be objective and fair. The latter can lead to accusations and conflict too. Other employees will be distracted by the drama or be made uncomfortable by it leading to lowered productivity.

For all of the above reasons, it’s important to consider the character and work ethic of any family member you want to hire in your auto shop. If you have reservations about how you think they will work out, it’s better to keep them away from your business. You may want them to be excellent workers, but you can’t hope or wish them into becoming so. It’s always a bad decision to hire an unqualified or unmotivated worker, family or not.