Surviving in a Family Business

Surviving in a Family Business I want to reiterate that some family businesses are great places to work, even if you are not a family member. But some are not. A previous post gave an example of that. So You, as a non-family employee, can inadvertently be caught in these difficult dynamics. What can you do? It isn’t an easy situation but here are some Dos and Don’ts. The Don’ts Don’t try to mediate Being right in the middle of the fight, you might try to be helpful and offer a suggestion (“A sample run won’t take long and then you can decide”). Stifle the desire to ameliorate or fix what’s going on. First, it’s not your job to do so, and second, even if you were a mediation expert, it’s doubtful you’d be successful (because you would not be perceived as trustworthy by all parties). Don’t identify what’s really going on Avoid any comments like “Look, I can see that you and Martha are having trouble, so I’ll just come back—.” No, no, no. Bad family dynamics are often that way because no one’s willing to be honest about the problem. In fact, Martha and Carl might band together…

Challenges of Working in a Family Business

Challenges of Working in a Family Business The last post examined a family business not operating well. Did you pick out their problems? I’ll go over some. Nepotism Large companies are not always a picnic to work in, but usually the Powers-That-Be have realized the problems associated with hiring or working with a relative. Thus, it is usually forbidden. However, in a family business, it’s not only allowed but a foregone conclusion. Initially, family is probably needed because they might work at lower (or no) wages until the business takes off. And when it does, it’s only natural to extend employment to other family members. So, in our example, the mother, daughter and son are all in the business. But being family doesn’t mean having the marketing, finance, production, or organizational skills that the job requires. For a non-family employee—presumably hired because they did have what the job needed (like You)—this can be galling. And, as in any company, people who can’t or won’t do their work, make it more difficult for those who want to do a good job. Non-performing workers might be fired in a larger company, but, in a family business, the personal may supersede work needs…

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,…