Working for a Family Business

Working for a Family Business Some of us work in big corporations; others of us in small corporations; and some are employed by family businesses. I want to focus on some of the particular challenges employees of family businesses face. That is, employees of the firm who are not part of the family which owns the business. Some family businesses are great If you’ve been lucky, you’ve worked in a family business in which both ‘family’ and ‘business’ are operating well. That is, the family members like and respect each other. The family can make the distinction between work and family dynamics and is fairly successful in keeping the two somewhat separated. If you are employed by this kind of family, it can be a great place to work. You can be more or less inducted into the family and benefit from the warmth and generosity of spirit which good families can produce. And then there’s the other type. Let’s do a typical interaction of such a family. There are at least three points where this family makes the typical mistakes in family businesses. See if you can identify them. Some family businesses are not good places to work First,…

Showing You’re Ready to Move Out of the Joe Job
Dark Side / September 19, 2016

Showing You’re Ready to Move Out of the Joe Job In the last post, we discussed being in a joe job—that is, where you are not able to use the full range of your skills and abilities. However, one of the best ways out is to have a reference from this job which sets you up for the one you really want. The descriptors you want your supervisor to use in a reference are: Enthusiastic Has initiative Bright Hard-working Responsible This table below demonstrates how each of these could play out in a work context. Demonstrating your promotability Trait NOT: You’re going for: Example Enthusiastic Gosh, everything is great. The people are so great. The products are outstanding. No wonder they sell so well. Adding value in your comment I think this product would be useful to younger people, too. They wouldn’t need it to lighten the load but might appreciate its convenience. Has initiative I know we’re not supposed to do it that way, but it’s stupid. My way is much better. Suggesting changes before implementing I notice we get backed up when there are a lot of customers. I could pack the purchases for everyone to speed things…

I’m in a Joe Job. Help!
Dark Side / September 12, 2016

I’m in a Joe Job. Help! You’re a salesclerk when you should be in the marketing department. Doing background research rather than writing the strategy. Being an assistant rather than a paralegal. Whatever it is, you’re in a job which not only doesn’t tax your skills but is downright boring. You’d like to contribute at a higher level (with more money, of course). Unfortunately, early jobs in the work force often are well beneath your talents. This can also happen in summer jobs or short university job placements. How you do the job can make things worse The problem is sometimes exacerbated, however, by how people decide to do the job. Perhaps to signal their frustration, they choose to do one or all of the following: Do the work slowly or poorly; Do the report using the top page of the Google search rather than delving more deeply; Avoid checking the inventory by telling customers that everything is out on the floor; ‘Forget’ to do the menial tasks you’ve been assigned; Let co-workers pick up your slack; Communicate the work is beneath you; Talk about what you could do if the bosses weren’t so hidebound; I get it. You’re pissed…

The Big Career Chance
Dark Side / August 8, 2016

The Big Career Chance The situation You have a new job as a tester for children’s on-line games.  Two weeks in, it seems like a pretty good place. The obvious leader is Larry, the senior designer. You haven’t quite made it in with the pack but you’re hopeful. Testing Pen is a programmer. You’re reviewing the bugs you’ve found with her. Pen: Gosh, that’s a strange one. You: Yeah, and only happens when the forest background is playing. Pen: (opens the files)  Hmmm—nothing obvious, but I’ll give a look. You: Unless Larry intended some sub-routine he dropped. Should we ask him? He’s over there with Caleb. Pen: Looks like they’re busy. You: But Malcolm (everybody’s boss) wants it in production asap. Pen: Larry’s busy. He won’t thank you for breaking in. You: But… Pen: Trust me, you don’t want to get involved. You: Huh? In what? Pen: (looks back to the screen) I’m sure I’ll find that bug. What did she mean? But it’s pretty clear she doesn’t want to talk. Larry’s project About a week later, Larry comes to your desk. Larry: You must be quite the hotshot. Malcolm doesn`t go over the top for nothing. You: Ah, comes…

Power Matters to You
Dark Side / May 16, 2016

  Power Matters to You In the last post, you were vying to develop a new company service. Despite your and Sarah’s best efforts, Mike positioned himself as the only one to do it. Why should you care? So, why does this matter? You may be thinking that you’re not power-hungry so this undercurrent can’t or shouldn’t affect you. (My definition of power is later if you’re interested.) After all, you’ve got a job. Who cares who gets the power? You do or should. The scenario in the last post showed why. Not only will Mike increase his profile but possibly at your expense if the money Mike needs is diverted from your budget. If so, you can’t meet your commitments but can kiss your year-end bonus good-bye. You not only don’t advance your career by creating the new service, you may actually lose ground. So news—even if you just want to do your job, power can and does affect that modest goal. Without it, you can’t prevent yourself from being at the whim of those who with it. What you do, how you do it, when you do it, who you work with, who you work for, and whether…