We are FAMILY…Five Important Lessons to Keeping Peace in the Family Business
So, you’ve joined the family business. Whether you are there willingly, or begrudgingly show up each day, consider what brought you to the family business in the first place. Are you and a sibling equal partners? Did you grow up dreaming of sitting at your father’s desk? Or did mutual interests create an opportunity to work together? Regardless, here are five important lessons to protecting the sanctity of the family while running a prosperous business;
- Know your role. You may be the oldest child in the familial hierarchy, but the corporate structure has you reporting to a younger sibling at work. Clearly defined roles will allow for optimum productivity and employees will appreciate the transparency. This will also allow for a smooth transition if family dynamics change such as the death of a founder, or the introduction of a new generation.
- Keep personal issues at home. Come into agreement that the workplace will not be tainted by family drama. Family members may understandably have some stake in your personal life but bringing family issues to the office is a surefire way to create unnecessary tension for everyone involved, especially employees, and could potentially undermine your professional relationships.
- Show a united front. Despite typical family squabbles, all family members need to treat each other with respect and depending on roles, there may be times it is necessary to defer to other family members in authority. A wrinkle in a family fabric can be devastating and while not everyone will be in agreement at all times, family members should discuss and resolve serious issues outside of regular business hours.
- Avoid nepotism. While this may be an oxymoron for a company with blood ties, it is important to establish a culture of a fair work place. Some businesses, however, err to the other extreme by applying unwarranted expectations on a family member in an effort to avoid even a hint of nepotism. It is important to establish a culture of behavior that is applied fairly to all employees, whether family member or not, to keep the balance of work in check. Reassure employees who may feel insecure in their jobs if a new or younger family member comes on board.
- Communication is key. Communication is a fundamental key to any successful business. A consistent approach to handling disputes should be put in place for smooth conflict resolution. Even if your business is made up solely of family members, unresolved family issues are often the underlying cause of strife so each family member should have the ability to share thoughts or visions as their roles dictate without fear of repercussions.
The numerous challenges of working with relatives can be offset by its many rewards. Above all, the value you place on a family business, or with working alongside family, will be paramount to your success and that of the business.
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