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,…

Leveraging when Your Boss is Fighting with His
The Need for Harmony / February 6, 2017

Leveraging when Your Boss is Fighting with His The previous post outlined a way that you might be able to appease your boss Trevor if his boss, Jennifer, starts assigning you work. As I mentioned, might work, might not. Depends on how good Trevor is at maneuvering to get what he wants. A gutsy but risky way out was suggested by a friend[1]who is very politically astute. You: Hi, Jennifer. Got a moment? Jennifer: Matt! Ah, sure. You: You know, I love the assignments you’re assigning me. They’re really challenging. Jennifer: And you’re doing a great job. You: It’s just—and of course Trevor hasn’t said anything—I get the impression he finds the situation a bit awkward. Jennifer: Well, that’s too bad. You: Look, I don’t want to cause any hard feelings, so I was wondering whether you would consider giving me a temporary assignment reporting to you. Just for the duration. Jennifer: How would that help? You: Well, it would regularize the situation for Trevor and allow me to focus on your work. Jennifer: Hmm—not a bad idea. The Pros and Cons If things go well, you are in the money. But it might not be all roses. Pros of…

Getting Out from Under when Your Boss is Fighting with His
The Need for Harmony / January 30, 2017

Getting Out from Under when Your Boss is Fighting with His In the previous post, your boss’ boss, Jennifer, was assigning work directly to you, skipping your boss (Trevor). On the one hand, this gives you great profile. On the other, it can get you into hot water with Trevor. Look at it from Trevor’s point of view. Jennifer is signaling she doesn’t consider him value-added. No matter how true, it would be hard not to resent that. In fact, the more true, the more it will be resented. Trevor can’t take his anger out on Jennifer (well, not if he has any political savvy), but he can take it out on you. Two things which bear repeating This is Jennifer’s problem which she is handling inappropriately. If you have a very collegial environment or a good boss, none of this may apply. But don’t assume that too quickly. Undercurrents are undercurrents because they’re hard to spot. If you’re not sure, I’d assume it is an issue. Okay, three. Trevor can hurt you and your career. Your concern is to avoid being the inadvertent instrument of humiliating Trevor. What to do Well, obviously, it’s not an option to say no…

Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion! It Gets Worse
The Need for Harmony / January 23, 2017

Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion! It Gets Worse In the last post, we covered what can happen if your boss’ boss asks you for work when your boss is out of the office. As we saw, if your boss (Trevor) is in dinosaur training school, he won’t be pleased. But it can get worse. What if Trevor’s boss (Jennifer) starts sending work directly, without going through Trevor at all? About a week after the last incident, an e-mail from Jennifer. You look at the top line. No c.c. to Trevor. “Matt, I really liked your work and want your thoughts on the attached document. How feasible is the proposal?”   Would that happen? Absolutely. Especially in smaller companies where there aren’t that many levels of management. And often, nobody gets their knickers in a knot about it, particularly if it is a very collegial environment. If your work place has that quality, you can skip this post. If you’re not sure, keep reading. Nope, I’m talking about when your boss Trevor does get his knickers in a K. And by the by, just because he doesn’t say anything, doesn’t mean he doesn’t resent it. (Gosh that was…

Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion!
The Need for Harmony / January 16, 2017

Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion! You have been beavering away in the bowels of your company, feeling as if you’ll be stuck in this job forever. Your boss (let’s call him Trevor) is something of a stick-in-the-mud who wants to do things as they’ve always been done. Then one morning, out of the blue, your boss’ boss (Jennifer), appears at your cubicle. Jennifer: Hi, Matt, have you seen Trevor? You: He’ll be in later—something about his daughter. Jennifer: Okay. I wanted to ask about the Waverly contract. Do you think it’s worth going ahead? You: Oh, absolutely. There are huge upsides. Jennifer: Yeah, but some downsides, too. They’re such a new company. You: But with great potential. We could be their supplier of choice as they grow. Jennifer: Yes, that’s a thought….Could you put together the pros and cons—something I can take to the VP? You: Sure, I’ll get right on it. You have died and gone to heaven. Not only does Jennifer know who you are but she’s asked your opinion! This is your chance. You knock off the pros and cons right away and send it to her. Within the hour, she gets back to…