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Yes! You did Hire the Spouse

July 4, 2016

As a Calgary Flames fan, I was excited about the signing of Troy Brouwer on Friday July 1. As a person involved in leadership with non-profit organizations and churches, I was even more interested in the comments Brouwer made about the influences leading up to Calgary being his choice.flames-brad-treliving-shakes-hands-with-newly-acquired-troy

See the video here (especially just after the two minute mark). Essentially, Brouwer credits General Manager Brad Treleving’s wife for phoning his wife as one of the factors (along with others) demonstrating how seriously they pursued him to join the Flames.

From a human resources angle, I understand the inappropriateness of asking about a spouse’s perspective of a potential employee coming on board. Yet if a spouse detests or resents their partner’s job, whether in for-profit or not-for-profit work can attest, his/her long-term employment at the company is dubious. By contrast, as the Treliving and Brouwer negotiation shows, a spouse can be your best advocate for the workplace. Unfortunately, since an employer cannot formally ask about the spouses’ perspective on the opportunity under discussion, usually an organization only finds out after the fact the good person they have hired is married to adversary, not an ally.

Note: This applies to both genders. An organization could hire a woman for an excellent and significant role (eg. VP of Finance), only to discover as the work is thriving that she is moving with her spouse because the company transferred him.

I am confident that when the Flames hired Brad Treliving as their GM, they did not ask about his wife’s role in the organization or what she thought about him taking the job. Yet because of her husband’s position, her voice was a factor in the Flames’ ability to sign Troy Brouwer as a free agent. Without breaking human resources requirements, it is imperative that organizations find out about an potential employee’s spouse and their attitude toward the role being considered. Because the reality is, whether the person is on the payroll, you are hiring the spouse too!

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