I often remind entrepreneurs that a company is not a family. This can be a hard fact to accept, especially since many startups seem like a family during the early days. Everyone knows each other, hangs out, and spends more time with co-workers than their actual biological families. And there are real benefits to feeling like a family in terms of dedication and cohesion.

But when the illusion of family is shattered—and make no mistake, it is an illusion, even for family-owned and operated firms—those benefits are replaced with a host of problems, including a sense of betrayal. That’s why it’s better to avoid creating the illusion to begin with.

A company is not a family, even if your startup may seem like one in the early days. Tweet This Quote

I mention this fact because the illusion that your company is a family makes it especially challenging to tell someone that their job has outgrown them. Think back to your own family when you were growing up. Did you ever make plans to demote your Mom and replace her with a new hire? It’s unthinkable. And even if you did work with Dad to carry out such a plan, we have a very different word for it: Divorce. Yet as your company grows, this kind of conversation is inevitable.

It’s not that your early employees are incapable of growth, or are somehow “inferior” to the later hires you can bring in (though it is possible). Rather, it’s a question of fit. For example, I know that I am an early-stage guy. I can tolerate better than most the uncertainty and ambiguity of trying to build a company (and possibly a market) from scratch. Once a company is successful, and the challenge becomes how to best spend a $100 million marketing budget, I’d recommend finding someone who specializes in that phase of a company’s life.

The illusion that your company is a family makes it especially challenging to tell someone their job has outgrown them. Tweet This Quote

The fact that a job has outgrown someone is neither necessarily their fault nor a bad thing. After all, most founders would rather face the challenge of effectively spending a $100 million marketing budget than figuring out how to make payroll with a single-digit bank balance.

But even if it’s right and natural to change people’s roles as the company grows, it’s not easy. We’re talking about real human beings, not Vulcans, and being told that you’re no longer capable of doing the job can hurt. I’ve had plenty of experience with having this conversation, on both sides of the table. Here’s what I’ve learned about navigating these treacherous waters:

1. Get started early.

One great way to make these conversations less awkward is to set expectations correctly to begin with. Far too many startups hand out fancy titles because founders think titles are cheaper than dollars or shares. They are, but they cause problems later on. If you make someone VP Engineering of a 1-person engineering department, it’s hard for them to accept the “demotion” to being an Engineering Manager of a 5-person team within a 20-person department, even though the job with the lesser title clearly carries more responsibilities. Avoid fancy titles.

Even if it’s right and natural to change people’s roles as the company grows, it’s not easy. Tweet This Quote

You should also make sure that you’re honest with people up front. “As we grow, we may need to bring in people who are a better fit. At some point, that may even mean replacing me as CEO. But it’s okay, because we’re getting compensated with equity for the risks we’re taking.” If you’re honest up front, the conversation won’t come as a surprise or betrayal.

2. Be as transparent as possible.

Sometimes, a company will avoid letting its people know that it’s planning to bring in an executive at a higher level than the current employees. I guess the company is afraid that letting people know will affect morale or cause some of them to look for other jobs. It’s certainly easier for the CEO in the short run to avoid those awkward conversations.

Far too many startups hand out fancy titles because founders think that titles are cheaper than dollars or shares. Tweet This Quote

Yet it’s way worse for both the current employees and the future executive. The employees have to deal with a shocking bombshell; the executive has to deal with managing a team of people she didn’t pick, and who now might not want her there. The decision to move someone to a new role should not come as a surprise to anyone.

3. Give people a chance to grow.

How can you know if your employees are capable of growth without letting them try? I’m not asking you to be stupid or reckless; the U.S. Navy doesn’t promote newly enlisted seamen to captain nuclear submarines. But you have to be willing to give people a chance to fail. If you only allow people to do what you know they can do, you have no one to blame but yourself if they fail to grow. And all other things being equal, promoting from within has been shown to be far better for business performance than bringing in outsiders.

Also, if you’re not happy with someone’s work or professionalism, tell them about it! People are capable of change and growth, but they need to know what you need from them.

You have to be willing to give people a chance to fail. Tweet This Quote

4. Treat people with respect.

Even if you need to shift someone into a new role, or even to let them go, you should still treat that person with respect. Fully acknowledge past contributions, and do your best to retain a productive relationship, even if it has to be a corporate alumni relationship. After all, the person you’re bringing in to replace your employee is smart enough to remember how you treated their predecessor. And if you’re considering becoming the queen’s paramour, it’s probably a good idea to investigate what happened to her previous lovers. If they’re sitting in her cabinet, you probably want to accept her proposal; if they’re mysteriously missing, that also tells you something!

It’s never easy to tell someone that their job has outgrown them. But if you’ve been a generous, transparent, respectful boss, they’ll be a lot more likely to stay a productive employee or friendly ex-employee.

About the author

Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh

Chris is the VP Marketing for PBworks, partner at Wasabi Ventures, and an avid startup investor and advisor. He is also a co-author of The Alliance and serial tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

  • Katie Larson

    This article points out the ever changing dynamics of a business. With these changing dynamics, comes a need for new roles and subsequent employees. Businesses must be open to this idea if they truly wish to thrive in their growth.

  • storres001

    I applaud how he points out that he’s a good start up guy, but there’s plenty of people better for the job once the company is past that stage. Some people think they’ll be good for a position until they want to retire and that’s just not that case, the business world is so ever changing that people come in and out of positions all the time. Quite a few of these points are more general tips on how to treat people in your company. I do support though that if you do some of these things from the start, such as being transparent, telling someone they might out grow a position, respecting employees, it will make it easier to have that conversation. Not only that, but it’s just a good way to treat employees and a company over all.

  • ZakFritz

    This actually happened at a company that I worked at. I was just a floor salesman but the mangers were friends before they started the company. One of the managers did not know what to do when they started having problems and eventually stopped working. He eventually was fired and he was very angry. He did a very good job at starting the company but once it got moving he had no idea what to do.

  • Erin Todd

    This is interesting. I find it very hard to swallow. Especially since these days, companies are striving to make a comfortable and friendly environment…however in the end it is a job. And even if you are well liked, you still need to perform your job at a satisfactory level.

  • 204Ted

    I feel that these steps can certainly help the awkwardness when a position gets too complicated for a member to hold. I think treating people with respect could easily be the most important. If you respect the person you know you can work with them as much as they can to see if they can fulfill the expanding role of their job. It helps even more that when they can’t, they won’t view it as the end of the world and will be willing to evolve or move on.

  • Chris Yeh

    One of the issues with “respect” is that there are several different meaning of the word. You can respect someone’s experience, but you can also show respect to people who are inexperienced. One kind of respect is based on the person’s accomplishments, the other is based on how we should treat other human beings.

  • Gaby Perez

    Interesting article, as Erin stated below, it’s hard not to see a company as a family, but I can also see why it would cause problems. I have worked with a small estate sale company for three years. At first it was great and a lot of fun, but with time I began to see the real issues. There is no professionalism what so ever, and when problem employees would obviously need to be let go our boss found it really hard to do–and didn’t do it. I agree there should be boundaries set from the start because later on it because way to big a situation to handle properly.

  • Katie

    I think these are great steps to keep a company focused and on the same page. It must be hard to not become some sort of family, seeing as employees spend lots of time together. Although it’s beneficial to be able to work well with others and it is okay to develop friendships, there should always be a level of professionalism in the office. These are great tips to make it less awkward.

  • Mallory Benham

    As someone who has hired and fired employees, the level of professional and friendship is extremely important to a business environment. This article makes so much sense because being too close to employees can make firing or discipling difficult.

  • Ryan

    I enjoyed this article, and found the suggestions to be insightful and direct. As with many topics, though, once it is laid out in detail, it almost seems too obvious, as though these behaviors are what we should strive for all along, without prompting. I recently saw my father experience something like this, as he worked for a company for over 5 years, during which the company expanded rapidly and consistently increased sales and productivity each year. However, the CEO came to realize that a better “fit” was needed, and consequently eliminated my father’s position. He and my dad were friends before working together, but the CEO did not follow the “respect” guidelines above, and strung him along on a “temporary layoff” for several months. This goes against the suggestion of transparency, as well. If a company needs to make a change, so be it, but as the article states, these are human beings, not just employees.

  • Glassborow

    I really enjoyed this article, the points given were really informative and I think can help make employers feel a lot more confident about having their team members go by preparing them and themselves for the possibility of it concurring while still maintaining a positive relationship. I think these tips will help create a much more professional business.

  • Alex Marski

    I agree with you that these days companies are trying to build a friendly environment. I have seen companies that have hired friends that didn’t know how to handle situations when that employee would slack off. Employers must remember like you said it is a business at the end of the day.

  • kgallaher

    I think this post has great information. It’s great to understand that a start up will grow and evolve, and it may outgrow some of your early members. Teamwork is really essential in a start-up, but it’s not about being a family, it’s about who can bring the most change and success.

  • Matthew Montoya

    This article is very relevant to me! I have noticed this exact issue present in my group work at school as well as the work I do with a start-up nonprofit organization. I think establishing expectations and guidelines early on presents an opportunity to create professional guidelines for the work conducted. I think initially if guidelines are created that seem to be anti-relational you will run into significant issues of lack of comradery and fear of being too involved with the people you work with. However, if professional guidelines and expectations are established that focus more on the profession component of the work, then the team will still feel a sense of belonging and freedom to be involved with one another.

    I would give the analogy of a bowling lane. The guidelines established act as bumpers (and yes I still use bumpers when I bowl, judge me!) which are there to not limit the ball’s (the team) movement on its way to the pins (the end goal), but rather it helps push the ball (team) in the right direction! It is hard to put up the bumpers mid bowl, therefore it is imperative that one turn on the bumpers prior to throwing the ball down the lane!

    P.S. Bowling with Bumpers is Cool!

  • karnold001

    I really like your bowling analogy, especially the part when you say that it’s hard to put up the bumpers mid bowl. It is essential that a start-up sets guidelines before they begin working so that they can establish their goals and prepare employees for certain changes that may occur later on.

  • sadeakindele

    I think that there are some extremely valid tips in here that I will keep in mind going forward, however, I disagree that a company cannot be thought of as a family. In fact, it seems rather contradictory to the other articles we’ve read. As long as you upfront with the employees (step 1) that no ones job is guaranteed and you may need to change things up, there is no reason the employees shouldn’t get attached and work hard for each other.
    It’s the same in collegiate athletics; we all know that after 4 years our time is up, but that doesn’t mean we are any less of a family or any less committed to one another. It’s this family dynamic that pushes us to our best, and is something companies should emulate if at all possible.

  • blackkylet

    I think there are definitely too many companies that try to establish their team as a “family.” I understand the sentiment, because they’re trying to establish an area of trust and acceptance that, generally, one can grow to expect from family. But it isn’t conducive to a business setting. I feel that it is important to have closeness with those you work with, but to always maintain professionalism and understanding of place.

  • JuanFonseca1995

    This article showcases how managers should set their expectations from their first interaction with their employees. When you set your expectations from the beginning, your employees are aware of the company initiatives, that they must hit and it will come to no surprise to them, when they realize that they are underperforming. Be transparent and as honest as you can with your employees, that way they will trust you and they will see that you value them as a human being, as opposed to just a worker bee. Give your employees a chance for growth so that as you move up the chain you can tell them that you acknowledge their growth as an employee, and that they can be promoted if they continue to give their best effort to the company. As a manager you must showcase your humility, character, and compassion to your employees because this grants you authority as oppose to just having power over your employees. People will do things for you when they find you to be a respectable human being.

  • Chris… this is so well written my friend. Thank you for this

  • rschneider2800

    I don’t know how I feel about this article. I don’t doubt it is important for some businesses that know that they want to grow from the beginning but I think there are many companies that are families and there is nothing wrong with that. There are reasons why original employees should stay high up in the business to remind your new employees the purpose of the business.

  • Arnthor Kristinsson

    Great point there Sade, I totally agree with you on this. Both with the family part and the comment about the athletes, that was on point!

  • kschwein

    Personally I only agree with this article to a certain extent. There are certain times where it is much better to have that family type culture in your company and there are times where it is better to not. It all depends on the business you’re in and the culture you want to set.

  • alexisprine13

    I think the topic of being transparent with your employees from step one does make things easier in the long run. However I do think that some companies can handle having a family type of culture.

  • mpierson19

    I liked the quote “give people the chance to fail”, I feel like once someone fails they learn how to cope with it and make up for it. It also gives them the mentality to have their head on a swivel, ready for anything that comes their way.

  • John Mulhern

    How counter-cultural. This article outlines all the things that entrepreneurs do when starting a business. A family setting is almost required to hold everyone together through the tough times. I absolutely see where this can cause problems though and I appreciate this article outlining those problems and supplying a new way of looking at them as well as a new set of solutions to solve these prominent issues.

  • Halea McAteer

    Interesting point, I definitely agree. I think on one hand, operating a business under the idea that they are some sort of family can be tricky and cause problems as pointed out in this article. However, I also agree with Sade that this sort of relationship can be beneficial even if it eventually has to come to an end. And who’s to say that having that sort of relationship won’t make it easier to be more upfront with employees/employers?

  • Kyle Gettelman

    One thing that I do not understand is that our country was founded on the basis of “family-style” run organizations. Why is it considered an illusion? I agree that there are things we can do to help lessen the blow or repercussions of negative actions (or perceived negative actions), but we do not need to remove the family setting. I come from a military background, and with how the military works, we focus on the sense of family, or brotherhood, to increase morale and cohesion. Removing these would cause many problems throughout the world in terms of people looking at their career/employer as just that…WORK, instead of going with the attitude of “i belong”.

  • nedroche

    I agree that becoming emotionally attached to a company or your job has a good chance of not ending in your family. At the same time it is only natural due to the passion involved. Entrepreneurs love their work because they put their heart and soul into it. When ever there is change IE new management, etc I agree that it is always best to be honest up front. Even though colleagues/ employees may not agree with the change there is still no reason for them not to trust you which goes a long way.

  • ChaiseSheldon

    I like how this post does not turn away from an issue that happens in all lines of work. Even with my limited experience in the work field I know this happens to everyone. You can watch in all fields as the position that people occupy sometimes evolves and passes them by. Most people cling to what they know and choose not to adapt and if that is the case it is best to step aside rather than become a burden.

  • Tony Bothwell

    I am a little torn on this article as on one hand I essentially agree with many of its points, while on the other I do not. Being transparent, having good communication, treating people with respect and allowing them the opportunity to grow, and sometimes fail are all hallmarks of a good company. But the depersonalization of the members of a team to the point where everyone is just there to fill a role is how you kill passion; it’s a place that unions are always looking for. I think a small start-up company with a handful of core staff *should* be treated like a family, especially as it begins to grow. Sure there is a distinction between work and family life, but the approach here rubs me the wrong way. For example, I think a flavor of the Socratic Method would work better here with a question here or there, allowing the idea to develop.

    Maybe it is the overall thinking, as the author’s approach appears that of someone who feels they need to manage people, as opposed to someone who feels that his staff should manage themselves. Sure 80% of the workforce out there are people who do need to be managed, but the 20% who do not, those are the early employees, and they were brought on for a reason. People on my team have responsibilities, they know what they are and I expect them to meet them.

    Without writing an entire article in the comments, I guess what I’m eluding to, is that if handled right, that analyst that is now responsible for far more than he is capable of should be able to reach that conclusion on his own. He will know the impact or potential impact, of not having the requisite skillset. In regular one-on-one’s this should be evident, and if he isn’t asking proactively about it, that’s where the opportunity to grow to fill the need would be presented. Sure there is a boss, and sure he can more or less just make a call one way or the other. But when the idea that maybe someone more qualified should be handling that function for the company is both the employee’s as well as the employer’s, it is a win-win scenario.

  • Paigekenley

    The statement “A company is not a family.” really caught my attention. There does need to be a line drawn that can not be crossed when it comes to business, but I also believe that you need to have a closer relationship to trust each other.

  • Paigekenley

    I also really enjoyed the quote “give people the chance to fail.” Great thoughts!

  • kmwilliams52

    A company is definitely not a family, especially when you are in a managerial type position where you are looking over others. As soon as you begin to act as if everyone is family or best friends, things begin to go down hill rather quick. From personal experience, anytime I have worked somewhere that is run purely as a business, things go over a let better than if things are run as if everyone is related. What I mean is, sure you can have fun doing your job, you should have fun doing your job, but that should not get in the way of doing your job. Once having fun with those you work with get in the way of actually getting things done, things need to change.

  • mrschatham

    Maybe the term “family-style” is where the problem lies. What if companies considered their workers as a team? Do families not work together as a team in order to live and blend relationships together? Maybe the problem is viewing co-workers as the “mom” or “dad” in the office, which can create a sense of awkwardness when demoting or rearranging a person’s responsibilities within the company. Change the vernacular to “team” and it becomes a different approach. I completely agree with what you’re saying about running a business that is focused on a sense of morale and cohesion, I feel that is extremely important in order to be successful and that those values should not be replaced. I also agree that people should not feel that work is just work and that it can be a place to feel a part of. I’m just saying that maybe the mentality of a “family” is what causes a problem, rather than working together as part of an entire team where all players know their positions and what their expectations are.

    From there you can easily implement the four steps mentioned in this post, but with a slightly different perspective. Communication is the key, but you also need a good coach to lead.

  • Eric Brinkley

    I think your around the people at work sometimes more then your family, so I believe the term family-style is correct.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Yes, I agree with you. I do think that you may spend more time with your company than with your family on some days. There does need to be a line drawn between those two just like you said. You need to treat your business like your business and family like family.

  • SK94301

    @tony, i like your comment better than the article. this sentence completely won me over:

    “But the depersonalization of the members of a team to the point where everyone is just there to fill a role is how you kill passion…”

    to carry your point further, if i had a person on my team whose job “had outgrown him,” i’d find an established executive to serve as a coach/mentor for that person. give him/her a chance to succeed with the support of experienced managers who’ve done it before.

  • Brooke Bower

    I never thought about something like this article but it makes perfect sense. As your company grows, you will need people with advanced skills to help with funding/ more intense projects. The people who helped with your start up company may not have the knowledge to accomplish more advanced work. It is important to let your old employees try and learn something new until they fail but from the beginning it is important to be honest with your employees and tell them that sometime down the road they may need to demote them because the company has become more complicated. Lastly, show those people respect.

  • Brooke Bower

    I completely agree with you, employees should be treated as human beings. It is better to be told right away that they will no longer need you. That way the employee isn’t sitting around to get their job back. I’d rather know that I was fired because I was no longer needed than to be told I was temporary laid off, so I can start looking for a new job. Respect is key.

  • Michellelele123

    I was going to comment on his comment and say the same thing! I also like your idea about finding that person a mentor instead of just letting them go because “they’ve outgrown their position” you can let them go as nicely as possible but its important to make sure they’re not just abandoned

  • milkienr18

    I agree you have to change the morale of the company when the company changes. Whether that means shifting peoples positions around or bringing in new employees. Sometimes a new person is good, it can bring a fresh mind to a situation and shed light on new ideas. I agree that everyone should be giving the option to try to grow before they get replaced. Simply because maybe they are unaware that your expectations have changed or that they are not that they are not living up to their original potential.

  • GSonDUBS

    Great points. I never even thought about company outgrowing the employees. Now I know. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anniep1023

    This was a very interesting article. When I think of a “family-style” business, I think of a small, independent business in a small town/community. However, I had never really thought that some larger businesses can be considered like a family. It was interesting to read how they start out like families but then grow out of that mindset. This article provided an interesting look at the world of businesses and the relationships they have with their employees.

  • Mabel

    I could of not said it better myself ! Professionalism is such an important thing , yet i feel it is something that is overlooked the most.

  • zoeantonow

    I hope I never have to deal with this awkward situation, though I appreciate the advice for if it’s inevitable someday. It’s also nice to hear about the different ways in which an employee could outgrow their job because it gives me insight on how to maintain being a productive and adaptable employee in my future career.

  • ronniepurcell

    I wonder how many successful entrepreneurs had to deal with this situation of possibly telling your partner/ good friend that he or she will be employed in a lesser role with the company. It’s definitely something you don’t think about when the success is flowing and you don’t plan for it either. But if your partner is understanding and you as the boss are transparent with what will happen, then I don’t think there would be any bad feelings because at the end of the day successful people are professional.

  • Bryan Parrish

    Comming from the military, I just don’t see this happening unless the person fails to meet expectations. I guess as the company grows, and the responsibilities increase, it is normal for more people to be hired. As long as they preform, the new hires should report to the “old hat.” In the end, if someone does not preform to expectations, then they need to be demoted or removed.

  • Erin

    This article was interesting. I am not in the business world right now so I have never really thought about this before. And I can definitely see where a business can’t possibly be comparable to a family. Although this is how almost every business wants the consumers to think otherwise. In every commercial and what not, all you hear is that it is a family and reading this makes me realize that it’s not really true. In the end the people running the business is going to look out for whats best for the business not the people working in it. I mean to some extent they obviously care about the employees but they are not the main concern when you are trying to run a successful business. They want what is going to make the most money.

  • Amy Rink

    When I first read this article I like what they were saying about the family businesses and stuff, but after reading a few other posts and specifically yours, my views have changed. I agree with what you said about the article and how there are many successful family run businesses and like you stated, their is nothing wrong with that!

  • Melanie Olma

    Maybe we can still have a family style business…..just put together a watertight prenup before taking the business plunge.

  • esiever1

    This article has given a lot of great advice. I agree with being honest up front. It not only will prepare the employee for any possible outcomes, but it will also motivate the employee to work harder in order to keep their current position. A company is always growing, and the employees should also grow with it.

  • ajgwynn

    This article really hits home. I’ve been told by many people that I’ve outgrown my job. I’ve looked into other opportunities but always find myself declining, even when offered a position. I try to keep the items mentioned in this article in mind, however I really feel that I haven’t finished my purpose yet. I’m trying to learn the ins and outs of a small business and see my job as an education. This was truly an excellent article.

  • struckml03

    I completely agree with you. A lot of the times people view their work and coworkers as family. I especially feel that way. Which makes it hard for me to move on. My very first job I was there for 3 years and I made friends that lasted a life time! I cried when I left. Im not saying, and I dont think you are saying either, that it is bad to become close with your co-workers; in fact its encouraged! The closer you are with co-workers the more comfortable you become which makes your job a lot easier and more engaging. You are focused more and enjoy your job so you will naturally be better at it. Even now, I love my current job SO much. I love the position and type of work I do, but the people I work with make it 10 times better. Being a college student I know my jobs switch up more often than not and soon it will be time for that “big girl” job. Accepting this isnt always easy, but its a good thing. I know from the managers point of view it is hard to tell someone that too. I think you stated some great tips on how to do that.

  • SkylerZahner

    I don’t know if I fully agree to this article because I think that feeling like a family is very important in a business that is started up from the bottom. As you begin to grow a business having people with the same mindset from the start can be the number one reason for survival or failure.

  • AFraley

    “If your honest up front, the conversation won’t come as a surprise or betrayal” Ryan I am sorry to hear what happened to your father.Sounds like his boss was not honest and showed no respect for him either. It appears that this article has been extremely insightful for you. I think that in this article they point out a lot of obvious facts, sometimes when we remove ourselves from the equation it is easier seen. I definitely think that unfortunately most of us have probably considered our work our family but i am now looking at it in a whole different light, my work is my work and my family is my family. Don’t try and combine the two, it’s like the old theory never live with your best friend because by the end you won’t be best friends anymore.

  • ClaytonEI08

    Very good article and things to think about when it comes to starting up your own business. People nowadays often times fail to realize that loyalty has an expiration date, especially in the business world. It’s very true that often times, your staff can sometimes feel like a family, and I really like how you advised not to make that mistake. The goal of any business is to grow, and with the evolution of your business, the faces around your businesses will need to change if you wish to continue to evolve. There will be times when someone has done a lot for you, but to get to that next level, you will have to bring in somebody else to help get you there. Business is business, never confuse it for family.

  • phoebeelisa

    while it is sad to me that a company is not a family, I agree. In my work place some people have gotten a promotion or recognition simply because they were popular and liked and not because they particularly did their job well or because they deserved it at all, while the people that keep their head low and work hard dont get any sort of recognition, and I think that is very unfair and unprofessional.

  • hansends21

    There is great advice given in this article. I have recently become a manager for fitness instructors at my school. It is surprising how many times I have already sat in the leadership meetings discussing employees that are our friends, and the best ways to approach them when they are not doing their job correctly. Serperating work and friends is a lot tougher than it looks.

  • joconne4

    It is interesting to see how there are stories out there of people who stick to one job for decades, and those who have hopped between jobs all their lives. There certainly are ups and downs to either lifestyle, and I’m sure some people have strong opinions on which sounds better for them, based on a number of personal factors too, I’m sure.

  • MeierKM23

    I loved this article and the suggestions are spot on. I am not a CEO or boss of a company but a current college student. This is what I would want someone for me to do at a job. I agree that it would be really hard to tell someone they have outgrown their job, especially if they have been there for quite a few years. I really like the suggestion to give someone a chance to grow. Everyone grows, somehow and someway so you have to give people a chance. It is different when they constantly are not doing there job but when they want to prove to you they can do what you ask, giving them a chance is the best thing you can do. Thanks for sharing this article.

  • MeierKM23

    I love how you said this. We should be treated as human beings and it is only fair to be told that you are no longer needed, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Sitting around can be worse in a way because you could lose time you could be making money and not knowing. Respect is definitely key.

  • rntom

    Good points and I would recommend this post to any company in its early stages.

  • nherzick

    thank you, very nice

  • Faisal AH

    I love this article and this is my first time hearing that there is a compony that outgrowing its employers.

  • Dena Keizer

    I agree with you that people need to be given the chance to grow. I also found it interesting how he said that there is an illusion that you company is like your family which makes it even more challenging to tell someone that their job has outgrown them. By having such a tight-knit company, it would be very hard to tell someone that they have outgrown their job because they are like family.

  • Alex Marski

    @Paigekenley:disqus I really enjoyed your comment! I agree when I read this article that same quote stood out to me as well. It is good to have a close relationship with co workers but there needs to be a line between business and family like you said.

  • Alex Marski

    Good point, I do think that for certain companies a family relationship seems to work well. Such as the restaurant business seems to be a popular “family” relationship compared to other types of companies.

  • Alex Marski

    I have experienced this first hand with a “family” work place setting. It was nice to have the trust and a close relationship to other co workers which made work easier and more enjoyable. but it is hard like you said to keep it professional at some points.

  • Travis Mattice

    This is a great article. There are a lot of things to take in when reading this. I think that more business should consider these main points and they might be better off. Thanks for sharing.

  • pach8453

    I really think this is an extremely useful article. This article helps to guide people in start-up businesses. If I were ever struggling with maintaining a business relationship with someone who is still my friend then I would definitely refer to this article.

  • kbell003

    As far as titles go, i think that this is a really interesting concept because I think that it is a lot more than just start up companies that fall into this trap. Places like subway give their minimum wage workers titles like sandwich artist which makes them feel a lot more important than their job is and gives some entitlement that really doesn’t need to be there. It is just such a interesting balance to find between giving someone dignity and respect in their job but making sure that it doesn’t go to their head.

  • Taysia Justus

    You really put your idea into perspective when you said, “Think back to your own family when you were growing up. Did you ever make plans to demote your Mom and replace her with a new hire? It’s unthinkable”. You are exactly right. You cannot consider something family that is constantly replaceable.

  • Chelsea Haffele

    Those who stay with jobs for decades is very rare for the up and coming generation. That is something that is seen more with our parents generation. I know for me being in the medical field I am expected to have many long tern jobs throughout my career as I grow, change, and become more experienced.

  • Anthony Davis

    I feel as though this article went into a lot of details on the specifics and I feel like it was very well written overall. I believe that it is a big concept for someone to learn from the work experience that they have had in the past and know when they are ready to leave a business. Sometimes jobs are outgrown and individuals change making a different approach to the career that they are in. I feel like this article did a good job of touching base with this issue and how to cope.

  • Anthony Davis

    I also feel that this article was very well written and I enjoyed a lot of the information that was present within the article. The author did a very good job of elaborating on the main idea and had good overall reasons for the subjects presented. I completely agree with you Daniel.

  • kellydieball

    Thank you for sharing this I really enjoyed it!

  • kellydieball

    Thank you!!

  • KE7JLM

    So very true. Its does feel like a family after working 12-16 hours days with them but you are right you have to grow. I know I am glad I made life changes when I did. Nothing last forever and its on to bigger and better things… hopefully.

  • Julia

    When I read this article, I immediately thought of my boyfriend. He recently got promoted to a general manager position at his job and he worked his way up to that position throughout the two years he has been with the company. He started off with sales and was friends with people at his position or even smaller positions. As he grew to the top, he lost his friends and concentrated on the company. He started to view this person as lazy or that person as unsuccessful. I slowly began to see the “boss” in him come out. I’m proud of his accomplishment, but it shows how power can change how a person thinks and feels.
    I think that’s how CEO’s can feel too. Once they have control, they concentrate on work rather than the people, which is the goal in some companies. I just think it is a “fake” way of doing things.

  • I really agree with your outlook. I think that is really what’s wrong with the business community and our society in general, too much selfishness. Even in the work environment or should I say especially in the work environment people are only out to help them selves even when they are on a team trying to accomplish a goal, which is always counter productive and a waste of everybody’s time.

  • Logan Bertrand

    This is a great contrast to other articles I have read to having such a strong bond with a team. I think it is very smart to have a very happy medium. Keep everyone so connected they feel like family, but when it comes to business everyone understands when the hard decisions need to be made

  • kgonyo

    The idea that the conversation shouldn’t come as a surprise is an excellent point. Having the company’s best interests in mind means discussing the issue with the employee as soon as the issue arises, otherwise the employee might have no idea that they aren’t behaving correctly. Reprimanding an employee who has received no warning is doing nothing but creating a hostile work environment.

  • adamsouthard88

    Overall, this article was a very interesting read. It shed light on a topic that I haven’t had much experience with. The one thing that I did not enjoy about it was stating that a company cannot be a family, it just has the illusion of one. I disagree with this because I believe that it really depends on the company. Smaller, closer companies seem like they could be a family to me. Just because sometimes things don’t always work out for people at the company, doesn’t mean they can’t still be considered family.

  • leeana liska

    I agree with certain parts of this article. I get what the author is saying about you shouldn’t treat your business like a family, but at the same time the connections and closeness and trust that you have in the others can sometimes really benefit the business. I have seen many cases where family businesses are extremely successful and I don’t think that treating other people like a family should be scrutinized. It all depends on the goals of the company or business, and sometimes the best thing for businesses can be treating the employees like family.

  • leeana liska

    I agree with you! I think it is important that the employees know that sometimes what is best for the business has to go first, but that doesn’t mean that the family aspect has to go away. If you separate family aspects and work aspects, I feel like it can be detrimental to a lot of the the happiness within the company or business. People shouldn’t be going to work for the soul purpose of working, but to have experiences, learn, and enjoy spending time around people that you like to be around.

  • Colin Hickey

    I think that it is important that the change is known. If it is widely known that a specific change is going to happen, there is less likely of a dramatic reaction. This article makes a very good point of this.

  • nsales

    The quote “A company is not a family” feels very realistic and direct for it is true. The company may seem very welcoming like a family, you still need to realize that it’s work, it is your career and there’s competition out there. Very well written article with the steps especially on the 4th one, treating others with respect no matter what happens.

  • Faisal Algannas

    This article points out the ever changing dynamics of a business. With
    these changing dynamics, comes a need for new roles and subsequent
    employees. Businesses must be open to this idea if they truly wish to
    thrive in their growth.

  • Paigekenley

    The thing that I agree with most they you mentioned is that “employees should be treated as human beings”. I feel that some employers forget that they better we are treated the better we will do our job.

  • Sarah Kasiurak

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I think employees have to right to know the actual plans of a new business in order to grow. However, I do like the family aspect within a company as long as it is still professional. If there is no family aspect, people would never enjoy coming into work. I think that a business should have a combination not one or the other.

  • Michael Sardina

    We don’t have to eliminate the family atmosphere of a business if the rules are stated from the start. I believe the most important points made in this article is to always treat your people with respect and to continuously groom them to become the best that they can be. People will come to know their limitations, but if they also know how you feel about them, they will always return your respect and want what is best for the organization. Turnover becomes minimal in a well run family oriented business if done correctly.

  • Michellelele123

    I agree with your comment! I understand business and personal life is seperate but a personal/family-like atmosphere can be beneficial, and when you respect eachother and work cohesively a lot more gets done and like you said always treat people with respect!

  • Michael Sardina

    I didn’t mean to minimize the fact that as the author stated sometimes jobs do indeed out grow the employee. It happens, but I believe if the manager is doing the job correctly, the employees will come to realize this, perhaps even before the manager does.

  • Thomas Miller

    “The fact that a job has outgrown someone is neither necessarily their fault nor a bad thing” I think this quote is a very important distinction in this article because sometimes things that happen in a company are out of an employees control. That’s just the way things are sometimes

  • Thomas Miller

    Agreed. I have only seen positive effects come from the feeling of family in the work setting. Why change that? The blow of being let go will hurt a lot either way

  • Thomas Miller

    I agree. I like the point made that they like to be ‘transparent’. It shows that they have nothing to hide from their employees. They’re completely open to letting everyone know what is going on, which, like you said, should create a less dramatic reaction when the change goes into effect.

  • RadebaugVP02

    Where I work the feeling of family in the work setting is always there and I feel that it’s a necessity. With that setting I feel like you are much more likely to get things done productively. I also see the other side as to where it can become almost too comfortable leading to laziness.

  • Alexa A Dralle

    Out of curiosity in my fellow readers, which of the 4 main points do you think is the MOST important and why?

  • Sara Fuller

    My parents
    own their own business and used to run it as a more ‘family style’ business
    this proved to be very difficult for them when it came down to making hard
    decisions about their employees. Since the early days of their business they
    have started to draw lines and keep their relationships more on the professional
    side. Which I think has made making decisions for the business a lot more easy.

  • Samantha Lavenau

    I agree that a company could be some form of a family. Some borders should not be crossed, but having communication and closeness between your company will help it flow better, which will help with income. You should like the people you work with or work for because you see them almost everyday.

  • Brooke Bower

    I agree with you and the quote. Just because the job has outgrown you doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough. It just means that it requires someone with certain experiences to handle it properly and successfully. For example, as start-ups grow the jobs will eventually become more complicated and difficult because of the increased productivity. It is nothing you can control.

  • Lindsay Jakubik

    It does feel good to be close with your coworkers and feel like family at work. I feel the same way with my coworkers because we always have each others backs. I think the point of the article is that it makes it harder to grow into your career if you get too comfortable. If you start off flipping burgers but love your coworkers, is that going to make you stick around? Or are you going to continue trying to move up the ladder is what I took from this article.

  • Thumbs_up

    I never thought about that before. It is really surprising how this article make sense. The professional setting is a really competitive field. As a non American, I can see how the values are built here and how they start to flourish in the early life (e.g. sports in high school = competition, driving and work with 16 = self-reliance, etc). Those values mold the character of people and accept these would help to accept that the company is not a family. However, this is not a excuse for not be compassionate, respectful and for not have an easy going personality.

  • HutsonZW

    This article is very well written and said. I agree with the author saying that if the work place is made into more of a family setting and one person gets a different position and responsibilities it will make it seem like the work place is not running right anymore. Where as if you look at them as just co workers and not make enemies with the other co workers then there won’t be as many distractions if something were to happen

  • kolinjk29

    I think that it is great when you can enjoy going to work and get along with all the people around you. If the business is successful it is great being able to grow with a company rather than having to always change jobs year after year.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    i just dont understand why a company cant be a family. in a way i get it you have to have structure and keep a coworker relationship but why cant it be like a family. a family works together and solves problems within together wouldnt you want that in a company? i thought this was a good article but i think a company being a family isn’t a bad thing. just my opinion.

  • keyser03

    Honesty is key. You have to be up front and tell them your true feelings.

  • barema28

    Everyone has their own specialties and excel at different things. Making sure people know their role in the organization is key. This all starts with honesty and respect. Respecting them enough to tell them what your vision is for them in your company. You don’t need to be a family, but you need to respect your coworkers no matter what their position may be. I also like the idea of not giving people titles. Then the people feel tied to it, when it could just be temporary. Thanks for sharing!

  • RadebaugVP02

    I agree with you that comfortability is the real issue. Being too comfortable leads to laziness. I think we always need to be on our toes in the workplace.

  • keyser03

    I’ve always felt that my co workers were family. We get mad at each other, but take things more personally than we should in a professional setting. We text about shift changes, and recently had to change our policy to call the store and talk to the manager about changing our shifts because texting wasn’t a good way to communicate and people were missing shifts. It’s hard to not pick up our phones to ask someone to work for a 4 hour shift because it can get complicated when you have to ask the manager to get involved-and sometimes you get in trouble for not putting your jobs first and you suffer the consequences. However now that we’ve been starting to get in a habit of doing things correctly by the written protocol, no shifts have been missed, and there is less tension. It’s all about following rules and working together, even if it’s an idea that you are not so happy about. Isn’t family like that?

  • jfaulkner35

    I think the promoting from within concept is a bit of a lost art. Everyone wants to bring in the latest and greatest hotshot from some other company. Then they realize that person was really good for that compnay and maybe not so much for yours. Promoting from within means your putting someone in a position who has interviewed for the job everyday at work and you have decided they are capable.

  • flaschbm09

    I do understand about what you’re saying about not being “a family” when you have to tell someone they out grew their job. The company I’m interning with just demoted a general manager at one of their locations because he wasn’t accomplishing the things he was suppose to. Doing this was difficult, as it usually is, but it seemed to be a little easier because the partners at that location didn’t have that family style office setting.

    This being said I do think that it’s important to have a friendly and open work environment. By having this, it makes people want to come to work and want to interact with others. I do however think that it shouldn’t be over done because then it’s hard to perform disciplinary actions.

  • alexlavine

    I agree that people should be going to work because they enjoy it and not just for the paycheck. I think that is one of the hardest feelings to create within a work place.

  • alexlavine

    When you first lose a job you’ve held for a long time that can be a difficult challenge to accept and move forward from, but it can also be a huge blessing at the same time because it is a new opportunity and a new routine which can reenergize your ideas and motivation toward work.

  • Lauren Schlicht

    This article offers a lot of really good suggestions when it comes down to being a manager or boss. Sometimes its really hard to regain control when certain positions are so closed niched. I am a firm believer that constructive criticism is key for progress. I like how this author mapped out ways to be upfront from the beginning to prevent issues in the future. Really good read!

  • Lauren Schlicht

    You bring up some really good points Kyle. I think that one of the main reasons why so many places push away from the “family-style” run organization is because some CEOs or managers get greedy and look out for their corporation rather then their employees. People are selfish and money hungry, they lose track of family style practices and only start to care about power and wealth. I can see where you’re coming from, I also think a lot of it has to do with where you work and who you work for.

  • Lauren Schlicht

    I work in the medical field as a CNA and am thankful enough to say I also am really close with my coworkers. We all get a long really well and work as a team. However, one of the nurses I work with brought to my attention something they taught her in nursing school and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it. She said she was always told, “don’t become friends with the aides, it gives them the wrong idea.” I was totally taken back when she told me she was TAUGHT to have this ideal, she isn’t one to follow such advice but what a thing to say. I guess I can understand that the logic behind it is to ensure a certain hierarchy in a since but it defiantly has the ability to make the work setting feel like nothing close to a family when you have to work together as a team to get things done.

  • Kaila Witthun

    I think it is very important to be straight up and honest from the beginning. Do not make it feel all cozy and family like just to tear it apart eventually. This may be difficult, but it makes it much easier in the long run. I really like the tips of allowing the person to grow. It is so important to give that person a chance to fulfill the expectations of that position, then if or when they can’t it is time to replace. I also find it very important to treat everyone with respect. Those treated with respect are much more likely to give it out. It will likely be much easier on the individual being let go if they have been treated with respect throughout the entire process.

  • Will Ettl

    It is always better for someone to be forward and upfront with someone. It will only make you as a person better. I would rather have someone rip me to shreds than tell me a lie just to make me feel better as a person. Everyone needs criticism every once in a while and we all need to work on something.

  • afallon14

    I used to have the same feeling in a previous job where we acutally called ourselves a family because there was only 4 of us employed there. It was an extremely nice feelings to have those people in my life and I think it definitely made for a better work experience. Sometimes it lead to being lazy, but at the end of the day we knew what needed to be done and made it happen.

  • purperoar21

    I agree with this, there should be boundary between your professional relationships and families and friends. While it is important to be close with your team, people often sacrifice professionalism or being unbiased for catering to their friendships. Following that, creating a work family is great but there is always going to be a hierarchy within that work family. For example, the dad the bread winner, the favorite youngest child, the mischief middle child etc. While I believe relationships are important in the work place, I think it is important to maintain that professional boundary.

  • Tyler Hebert

    Just like another article I read earlier, I like that this one talks about giving people a chance to fail. If you don’t have the chance to fail, you aren’t in the right place. People need to fail to learn and the more they fail the more new things they will learn to help themselves and others to succeed.

  • Radaya123

    Letting people fail is painful especially when it could be avoided with a little assistance. But a plan without struggle is just a dream.

  • Leah Renee

    wow these are all things i would never think of! although i love 1-4 i cant help but hate the part about not making a company a family. i know business wise, for the most part, this is true… but we all spend way to much time working to not become a family. and feeling that way is part of keeping employees happy which is so important. but even if the company is family, boundaries need to be set which is reflected in 1-4

  • Timothy Joseph Basaldua

    I agree. I think family is so important and should be valued in the work field. I think it’s very important for the boss to be respectful and fair. It’s a horrible feeling to be treated poorly in the work field. It makes me discouraged, but it’s important to address those concerns with the boss to make your work day more pleasant.

  • johnsea

    I really like the four suggestions you gave for how to navigate this. All of this goes back to communication and making sure everything is clear and upfront. I think family settings are important to many businesses, especially in their development. As businesses grow and the founding employees grow out of their jobs (maybe they need to be replaced with people more skilled), then it might be a good idea to have them spearhead a new and developing group within the company or an entirely new company. I see this being successful, as that founding “family” is already skilled at getting things off the ground.

  • Willie

    Ultra Income source unreasonable < Find Here

  • Chuck Triplett

    I’m often amazed at how something as simple as “treat people with respect” is overlooked in many organizations. Respect is an essential part of effective leadership. It extends beyond acknowledging someone for their successful contributions. True respect compels a leader to be honest with employees about their strengths and weaknesses. It helps to build the trust that is essential to creating a sustainable organization.

    Leaders must respectfully embrace the “awkward” conversations that enable truthful performance evaluations and professional development. Creative titles often serve as a way to avoid these hard conversations and ultimately fail the individual and organization.

  • Sarah

    This is a really well written article that I think underlines some of the pillars of leadership and human resource management. I do think organizations can be both successful and have the feel of a family – in fact Gallup Q12 survey asks about ‘best friends’ in a way that seems to value the professional impact
    a very close, personal relationship can have on success.

    I love the tip about giving people meaningful and realistic job titles. In higher education it can be easy to become a Director in the admissions field when you are really a recruiter. I guess that job titles matter in the recruitment field, though quite honestly if you are offering me a place at a college I wouldn’t care if you were a Director, a Counselor or a Graduate Assistant!

    I agree that giving people a chance to grow is key. As Chris mentioned, he knows where he can have the most impact in an organizational and I imagine he found that out by being given the chance to grow. If we are put into silos or stifled then we won’t have the chance to develop. In that vein, I think it’s important to be honest when someone has outgrown their job – this happens often and managers aren’t always confident enough to have a positive conversation about helping their employees move on to a new challenge.

  • sophia laValley

    I think that the four steps listed work for changing roles within a company but can also be used when hiring in many ways. Number 3, give people a chance to grow seems like the hardest rule for companies to employ. Many get stuck within one role until they are outgrown by the job or until they outgrow it an leave the job. We need more fluidity in our careers and more chances to be offered and accept change.