54

My company has (repeatedly) requested that I ask my family members to trial their service.

I would rather keep family and work separate, and so I told them my family wasn't interested.

However, I keep getting asked if family would like to trial the service, and have been met with disappointed looks when I've said 'no'.

Is this likely to hold me back?

Extra details:

  • No offer to pay participants has been made;
  • It's unlikely it'd bring any value to their lives;
  • It is other (more senior) team members who have been asking;
  • Anyone taking part in the service has to sign up for it, so the company would know if they did (or did not) sign up.
  • it's always free - I'd rather not go into details, but they would definitely notice the service being there. It requires some participation on their side. This is why I don't want to inconvenience them.
  • My concern is that, given the repeated requests I've received, they will see me as "letting them down"
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mister Positive Oct 15 at 13:40
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    Is this family in your same household, or extended family? if the latter, given that the "testers" have to sign-up for the actual service, could they also be looking for sales leads? – Damila Oct 15 at 15:51
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    Is this a free trial period where they'll be required to pay after 30 or so days or is it always free? – Hannover Fist Oct 15 at 18:59
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    Your post notes, you "would rather keep family and work separate". Have you considered telling management that you would rather keep family and work separate? – donjuedo Oct 16 at 12:29
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    @Aequitas maybe EuRBamarth enjoys being able to afford rent and groceries. Not everyone has the privileges of us IT professionals easily being able to find new and better job prospects. – René Roth Oct 18 at 11:17

10 Answers 10

94

It's perfectly fine for you to prefer to keep work and family separated. I think it's also fine for your employer to ask you if you were willing to have your family and friends test the service (but not to force you). You've politely declined, so I don't think there's much more you have to tell them.

This, in theory, shouldn't hold you back. What if your family wasn't interested at all, or if your family lived in another country, or if you didn't have a family? Your relationships and if you want to mix them with work is your decision in this case.

If your employer fails to understand this, then it's probably time for you to start considering moving on.

  • 66
    They're probably disappointed because they're having trouble finding volunteers. If they're at the same level or lower than you, they shouldn't be able to threaten your job. If they're above you then you may need to talk to them about having a better process than running around the company to get free work done by employee's family members. The position they're looking for is "product tester" or just call a temp agency. – Nelson Oct 15 at 10:17
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    OP wrote "I keep getting asked" so, even though your answer is a good one if it was asked once, it doesn't apply to this case. I believe OP wants to know how to stop this. – undefined Oct 15 at 13:45
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    @undefined, allow me to disagree with you. OP didn't ask how to stop this. The question was if this would hold the OP back. At the same time, I believe my last sentence covers your scenario: if the company keeps asking and asking despite OP saying no, it's time to move on, and that's a way of stopping it, in my humble opinion. – Charmander Oct 15 at 14:16
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    It's always fair to ask... once. Doesn't matter the question. If they keep asking then it becomes a form of harassment.. – Giacomo Alzetta Oct 16 at 12:16
27

I'm going to offer an alternative way of framing your negative

It's unlikely it'd bring any value to their lives

This statement tells me that your family might not be the target market for the service.

I don't have the full context of your service and your family to make it into a nicer, more concrete example, but when asked again, I'd list a few reasons why the service is not interesting to your family besides "I'd like to keep work and personal life private" and recommend they seek volunteers among the target market for the service.

If even then they still insist in marketing to the wrong audience, I'm also seconding the other answer's advice on getting out of there, mainly because their senior leadership cannot recognize a wrong strategy when slapped with it in the face.

  • 39
    Careful with giving reasons. You're inviting an argument. – knallfrosch Oct 16 at 6:25
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    @knallfrosch Also careful getting into a clash with upper management without giving an objective reason or justifying with something that is purely a matter of personal stance. You're also inviting an argument and one that is even harder to be turned around because they'll think that OP can be convinced to "change their mind" – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 16 at 7:50
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    I think it should be better presented as the opinion of the family member: "Yes, I know our banking app is superb but when I mentioned it to my great-aunt, she claimed that she prefers so much the way $BankEmployee (which she has known for the past 30 years) explains her finances to her every month at pay day." Do not enter into an argument with the coworker, they are your aunt's reasons, you may not share them, but that's enough for her not to try your service, they may argue with her directly, should they wish. – Ángel Oct 17 at 0:33
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    Of course, the fact that she barely manages to switch on and off her TV could have hinted that she might consider it too complex, but it is her decision what matters in the end. If she wanted to sign up, that would be perfectly fine, too (just make sure her support lies on the official channel, not to you!). – Ángel Oct 17 at 0:33
  • @Ángel that being a specific example of "my family is not your target market", thanks :) You don't try to push a banking app to someone who can't even figure out Facebook – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 17 at 12:52
9

It is unlikely to hold you back (in western countries).

Companies commonly trial new services or products with so called "friendly users" - quite often employees or families of employees. People who, if something is wrong (which is likely during early trials) won't immediately complain on social media or the press, but talk to - in this case - you about it and you can give feedback to the company.

This is not intended as a free service to your family, it's a testing opportunity for the company and the benefit for your family would be free/early use of the service.

So you are absolutely free to decline. If you are being asked repeatedly, it's a sign they can't get enough trial users - maybe others are declining as well?

  • "it's a sign they can't get enough trial users - maybe others are declining as well?" yes, that's right – EuRBamarth Oct 17 at 7:58
  • @EuRBamarth well, then the company probably needs to pay some testers. Or if the problem is that service is ready for use, but nobody is interested in using it, it is quite possibly a service nobody wants. In these days, especially in social media, but also in other areas, there are more than ever services, and, for example, I wouldn't even consider subscribing to any, unless there was a very clear benefit that was relevant to me. – Gnudiff Oct 18 at 5:44
4

That your company keeps asking this despite you saying no repeatedly suggests that they are desperately looking for beta users for the product. I'd suggest saying no again, and explaining why on that basis.

Look, the truth is my family members would have no value, maybe negative value, as beta users. They're not our customers - Even if I get them to sign up, they don't really have any interest in the service, won't use it all that much anyway, and any feedback they'd give wouldn't be reflective of our target audience and may just lead us off course.

This addresses the request on its own terms. You're not saying no for unrelated reasons - your interests are aligned. You want users, but your family are not that. Just make that clear and it should put an end to the matter if their motives are reasonable.

3

To avoid conflict, you can tell your family said no.

This does not even need to be a white lie, you can ask your family (and explain the advantages and disadvantages and tell them that they should not say yes to do you a favour) and probably will get a no.

  • This is good becuase it adddresses ther specific issue of *wanting to seem like a team player by complying' (words mine), i.e. the underlying issue. It says you were happy to make the extra effort and ask them. They said no. If further questions continue, smile, say nothing. Make them feel uncomfortable. do NOT provide other arguments such as 'why' they said no. Or provide 'they prefer not to'. Smile. Silent after giving that one reason. – Michael Durrant Oct 18 at 16:11
  • It helps turn 'i prefer not to' into 'they prefer not to' but I made the effort – Michael Durrant Oct 18 at 16:13
3

No means no. If they asked you once to involve your family in their company, that was pushing a boundary pretty hard. If they repeatedly won't take "no" for an answer to an unreasonable request, that's preposterous.

These people are unprofessional weirdos. If they're this desperate to find anybody to try their service, they're almost certainly doomed in any case.

Keep saying "no". Tell them you're uncomfortable being pressured about it. And start a serious job search immediately.

2

Is this likely to hold me back?

We don't know your company culture or your senior members, so it's pretty hard for us to say if it's likely to hold you back. We don't even know what your product is.

It is likely that they cannot legally do anything. It is also possible that this may affect how invested you appear to be in the company. This can have various consequences and may be difficult to prove as a motivation. If you feel that it's affecting your work and feel that you have legitimate cause to believe so (overheard someone saying you were non-committed, or some other sort of solid evidence), then it may be time to brush up your resume.

I'm sure there are many companies where not using the company's product is not a good thing. I can't imagine it would go over well for Netflix employees to say "Sorry, my family only watches Amazon Prime."

In the extreme, you have countries where Coca-cola workers can be 'fired' for going to a restaurant that serves Pepsi. But unless you're in a small startup where 'company values' are highly valued, this is unlikely to actually affect you in the UK.

1

If you worry about the situation, let's try to resolve it another way. What if you start supervising a volunteers group via social media or any equivalent? If the company product is really a thing, there could be bunch of people who happily be a one of early adopters, a part of a focus group etc. Give it a try, why not?

1

Let's say you're working for Facebook or similar social media before they were popular. But you can't be bothered with promoting the very service you're working on? Either:

  1. you really don't care about the service, which is bad enough;
  2. or maybe the service is so bad that it's going to be a disaster, that's even worse.

I'd say the first case is more likely. The boss is still believing in the service, but you don't like it well enough to promote it. The boss is definitely not going to like you. They could even blame you for hurting morale.

This is bad for you! It will definitely hold you back.

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    It would really help if we knew what type of service was being offered. But even if it's not social media, this answer is still relevant because the question asks about the boss's perspective. The OP has a problem! – D_Bester Oct 17 at 16:40
0

Which kind of product do you work for that not even your family wants to use? Maybe you should revisit your morals if you are selling a product to other people that you don't actually love to have at home yourself.

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    We don't know the exact product, but if it was (for example) a diaper service, and the youngest member of the family was (say) 10 years old, it could be a product that simply isn't needed. – Eugene Styer Oct 16 at 17:25
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    I think it is reasonable for people to work creating products that their family might not want without being immoral. You might want to be more measured in your criticism. – Jennifer S Oct 16 at 20:03
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    Down marking this. The fact its no use or interest to his family doesn't mean in any way it's likely to be immoral to work there or create it. It just means its not right for them. – Stilez Oct 16 at 21:42
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    I too got the impression that the company's product might be something scammy, but I don't think we know enough to say that definitively. – R.. Oct 17 at 2:22

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