How to hire your spouse

Dale Morgan, CEO of ASTOUND Group, hired his then-fiancée to head up the company’s sales team. Here’s how they made it work

Dale Morgan, CEO of ASTOUND Group.

Dale Morgan, CEO of ASTOUND Group.

Dale Morgan, CEO of ASTOUND Group, on the decision to hire his wife (then fiancée), Jennifer Chia, to head his firm’s sales team:

I would never recommend hiring someone because they’re your spouse. You want to hire them because they’re a great fit for the role. If they don’t have the right attributes and talent for the job, it’s going to be a sticky situation.

Jen joined the company at a critical time for us. It was back in 2008, and we were hit with the challenge of the downturn. We were really heavily focused on a few different industries where the bottom really fell out. Clients cancelled many events and shows that had been repeat business for us. It was really desperate times.

Jen, being the really supportive, great person she is, jumped on board with us in our darkest hour to help bail us out. She had been working with a major telecom and internet provider at the time, so she had really solid sales training, and also knew a lot of technical jargon that could really resonate with our target customers. It was a unique situation.

I did a lot of soul-searching before hiring Jen to make sure I wasn’t mixing up my feelings for her with the reality of her suitability for the job. We talked about it quite a bit before we made a decision, to make sure we were aligned on our business philosophies and values. It was a risky move, but it has been very successful for us, because she has proven to be the absolute right person for her role.

Technically, she reports to me, but we’re both very aware that the situation could create the perception of favouritism, so we keep it professional: We don’t interact much in the day, and we escalate issues appropriately. We’re in a groove. It works.