Dave Says: Revoke His Get Out of Jail Free Card

Dave RamseyBy Dave Ramsey3 Minutes


I own a small residential tree service company. Last year we made a little over $300,000 in revenue, and this year we’re on track to make around $750,000. We have five employees, and one of them is my brother. He’s the kind of guy who, when he’s on, is really good. But when he’s not, he can be antagonistic and hard to be around. Most of the time everyone just shakes it off, but I’m beginning to think his inconsistent attitudes and behaviors are becoming detrimental to the culture I’m trying to create within the company. Can I get your thoughts on this?

— Mo


It’s great your company is growing like that, man. Congratulations!

Now, are you ready? Because I’m going to hit you with a pretty stiff jab. Allowing someone you love to misbehave isn’t grace or mercy—it’s cowardice. Grace and mercy mean you love someone enough to approach them about their misbehavior.

If I were in your shoes, I’d have a serious heart-to-heart talk with the guy. I’d tell him I love him and that he’ll always be my brother, but I can’t allow him to disrupt the company with how he’s acting. I’d give him the chance to address the behavior and fix the problem, but if he can’t or won’t do that, I’d let him know he can’t be a part of the business anymore.

A lot of people might say that’s mean or you shouldn’t treat family that way, but those folks would be wrong. If the other employees don’t like or respect him, he’s not dependable, and he’s causing other issues within the company, the job and the kind of work you do may not be for him. If that’s the case, keep loving him and let him know you’ll help him any other way you can, but you won’t allow him to continue being a thorn in everyone’s side. I mean, he’s your brother. But right now, he’s also an employee and a coworker.

Understand I’m not saying the guy’s a bad dude. He’s probably got a lot of good qualities inside. But he thinks he’s got a get-out-of jail-free card just because he’s your brother. And it’s time you revoked that card.

Walk with him in the process. Let him know he doesn’t have to be perfect from here on out, but that you want to see clear signs he’s trying to change and improve some things about himself. Because he’s not going to have his best life—no matter what he does or where he works—until he addresses these negative behaviors.

Good luck, Mo!

— Dave