Nepotism: There’s A Family Member On Your Sales Team 😨

You heard a rumor last week from someone in management that the boss’s son may be added to your team. Perhaps he is new to the company or maybe he is transferring from another department, but whatever the case, whenever the bottle stopped spinning it was pointing at you. The next thing you know the owner calls you into his office to share the big news. As he is justifying this decision, he makes himself absolutely clear that his son should be treated no different than anyone else on the team. Now proud and confident in this decision, the owner releases you back to your daily tasks while your mind races through every possible implication of how this will affect you and your team. Now what? ⁉


Personally, I have been on both sides of this topic. Once as the son of the owner and then another as the manager of the owner’s son. First of all, working in a family business has its own challenges and that list is long. But I will say that no matter what, being a son, nephew, daughter, niece, etc. of any owner is never fun because very few people want to give you a fair shake. You are treated differently whether it is intentional or not. Some co-workers will naturally resent you while others will try to win your favor. Believe me, no matter how hard you work, if you are a family member of an owner all of your actions will be viewed through a lens of suspicion and you always wonder what your co-workers really think of you.  


What if you are the sales manager and you find yourself managing family members. Is this family member going to function as a spy and blab about everything you do or do not do? Will they treat you with respect or act with diplomatic immunity? Will this create a level of resentment among the other salespeople when it comes time to divide the territories and hand out the leads? There are 3 ways a family member finds themselves on the sales team. 1) They have a real penchant for the company and sales and this is their true calling. 2) They are making their way through each department to learn the business and eventually take over. 3) They have flunked out of every other department so they land in sales where you have to babysit them. The first mistake you are likely to make is trying to manage them instead of managing the process. Here are the 3 ways to handle having a family member on the sales team. 


  1. Have goals – There should be an agreed-upon goal for the family member that matches the goal of the other team members of like experience and talent. Based on these goals, it should be an easy conversation as to why the family member should or should not be on the team.
  2. Have a process – Make sure there is a process for the entire sales team and let the family member know they are expected to follow it. If over time, you find that things are or are not going well, you can point back to the process as to why so the owner has an understanding.
  3. Have KPIs – Key performance indicators are the activities necessary for anyone on your team to be successful. This should be no different if one of them happens to be a family member. KPIs leave slackers nowhere to hide. It is the accountability we all talk about. 

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