The best answer I can come up with to that question is: it depends. I know a lot of people who swear by never hiring people they know. Those are the same people who also say they’ll never date a colleague, or never mix any form of business and pleasure. Those things all sound noble, but they’re just blanket statements that don’t hold up in the real world.
How many companies do you hear about that are founded by two brothers, or two sisters, or father + son, or lifelong friends (like in Pure Adapt’s case)? A lot. Know why? Because those are the people you trust. There the ones you know you can count on because you’ve been through difficult times with them before and you know how they react. There’s also the other side of it: that you have a more complex relationship than just business partners, and when things go awry you’ll have another layer of the relationship to deal with. So a lot of people just avoid working with friends and family solely for that reason.
If you take that approach, you make running a business a lot harder on yourself (not to mention the ironic fact that you’ll probably meet a large portion of your friends at your job…so the more friends you make, the less potential job candidates you’ll have…which is ridiculous). The value of your network is probably the best hiring asset you have. I know I have a mental list of about 15 people I know that I’d LOVE the chance to hire. Some are friends, some are relatives, some are former co-workers, some are former teachers, and some are classmates from college. I have a relationship beyond a typical professional relationship with each of them, but given the resources I’d hire them in a second because I know exactly what they bring to the table.
First and foremost, they’re all good, honest, trustworthy people. They’re also all very intrinsically motivated people who take pride in doing a good job – no matter what they’re working on. And of course they are all extremely good at what they do. I know all of this because I’ve been through the trenches with them before and I know how they work under pressure. Think I could learn all of that from a few interviews with someone I found on Monster.com? I’d be insane not to hire those people, and if I ever get the chance I sure as hell will hire them in a second. See, I also know that each one of them is a professional in every sense of the word and I know they can handle the complexities of the relationship.
The key in my mind is being able to separate your business relationship and your personal relationship. We do an amazing job of that at Pure Adapt – when we’re watching a football game together that’s what we’re focusing on, regardless of how the work week went. That’s how I know it can be done. I guess the bottom line is this: if you know someone who is perfect for the job, and you are fairly certain they’ll be able to separate the two relationships, you’d be stupid not to hire them.