Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase spoke a few years back to a business school class and he posed an interesting question. When considering whether to promote or hire an executive, ask yourself “would you want your kids to work for this person?” It was asked in the context of what makes a good executive – does the manager really support the company in a broad sense, does he/she develop people. Dimon said he wants “patriots” not just people looking for a job.
The question means one thing to the CEO of a $2.5 trillion bank with 250,000 employees. For family-owned companies, it’s a bit more personal.
While the “corporate” questions are key – is the executive a capable person, will he/she be a champion for the business, thinking through the question of how this executive will manage people is unquestionably important. Framing that with a personal question – would you want you son or daughter to work for this person? – can clarify that evaluation.
Some of the most successful companies I’ve worked with are family-owned. And so, almost without exception, sons and daughters are working at the company for someone other than the owner, at least for part of their career. And so, along the way, that owner, in hiring an executive, must have considered whether he/she would want a son or daughter working for that person. The family-owned business embeds Dimon’s question into the hiring process in a literal way. I suspect this brings strength to family-owned businesses that others might not benefit from.
I welcome your thoughts on this and experience with the question. Have you considered this in your business?