Your nephew needs a job for the summer, and you need labor. But he knows absolutely nothing about construction. Do you hire him?

May 2016

Your nephew needs a job for the summer, and you need labor. But he knows absolutely nothing about construction. Do you hire him? If so, how much do you invest in training knowing that he’ll be off to college at the end of August? What valuable contributions to your company/the job can he make in such a short time span?

Depends which nephew. One has such a good work ethic that he would be an example to other newbies on the crew. He would start at the bottom and advance naturally, even in a summer. He is fun to be around. I think he would be good for morale. He can think through a problem or issue. I think he could show another guy how to think, too. He has a cousin I would not waste time on.

Absolutely, if he meets our criteria. Interns are a must for a growing business.

There’s always a job for an exceptional worker. But there are many more risks than rewards when hiring teenage family, both personal and professional. If you think this is a good place to get good advice, then I recommend not hiring your nephew.
—Chris Ball, Ball CM

To start I would have him be the laborer doing cleanup. I would not invest too much time on him teaching the trade. In 15 minutes you can tell what he is made of. If he is doing well, I would tell him to keep his eyes open to see what the mechanics are doing, then ease him in as a helper halfway through the summer. More than likely he will become a good helper during his four or five summers working during the summer breaks. Who knows? He probably won’t find a job in the career he studied, like most college grads, and end up working for me when he is out of college anyway.
—Jim Fitzpatrick, Owner, Fitzpatrick Drywall Steel Interiors, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

I did hire my nephew for the summer. Onsite, everyone quickly learned: You cannot train someone with a Napoleon Complex. He never made it to college. Could have been running the company by now had he been taught a “work ethic” in high school. Instead, he learns: “Everyone is special”—just for showing up!
—D. Dwayne Glass, Capital Wall & Ceiling, Inc., Tallahassee, Florida

This is a fact of life for companies like ours that are small and family owned. In our family, between high school and college wouldn’t be the first time the nephew was put to work, but it may be the first time they work full time. We would not invest a lot in training in the trade unless they had a real interest and a little experience. But an extra hand is always appreciated loading and unloading trucks in the warehouse, running errands and other tasks that can be demonstrated and learned without a lot of formal training. It gives the nephew some job experience working full time and some insight into what the family business is all about.

IFF (If and only if) you have the need and he/she possesses the skills to fill the temporary position and expectations are clearly communicated to him/her and your brother/sister and spouses and that if it doesn't work out it cannot affect the family/relationships. Part of the expectations are that they are to be held to a higher standard as they represent the family and company values.

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