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August 03, 2018 | Posted in:

Working in a Family Business: The Advantages and Pitfalls

A family business separates itself from other establishments through the passionate workers and unbreakable bond between employees; however, what I’ve learned working in a family business run by my own family is that it can be both rewarding and challenging for not only those “insiders” who have that genetically unbreakable bond, but also the “outsiders” who may also find a bond to the business and the family behind it.

Advantages:

 

  • Insider
    • You work with people you trust, which makes for a comfortable work environment that makes it easier to start discussion.
    • One person can be given a variety of different tasks and roles and needs of the business can change even day to day. This can be valuable in getting that wide range of experiences including both ‘front-of-house’ and ‘behind the scenes’ roles.
    • There is a distinct, sentimental attachment to making the business work. This drives family members to work harder and more effectively.
    • There is job security, except in rare situations, because family will always support family. With that job security comes the responsibility of being a top choice for a promotion.
  • Outsider
    • Family businesses want to hire for the long-term. They want to bring people in that they can trust and with that, it eliminates the paranoia of a quick turnover for a newly received position.
    • There is far less of a ladder to climb to speak directly with a manager or owner which can give everyone more of a chance to be heard.
    • Family businesses are far more flexible with scheduling and are more understanding in the event of a personal situation that may arise due to their focus on that work-life balance.

 

Pitfalls:

 

  • Insider
    • There are high expectations not only from family members, but also from non-family members that see you moving through ranks. Insiders constantly need to prove that they are capable and deserving of their positioning to avoid conflict amongst other employees.
    • Leadership roles become blurry. With too many hands in the pot, it can be challenging to make big decisions without a clear chain of command.  An owner(s) can at times feel stuck between business and personal relationships and allow more voices to chime in to avoid personal conflict.
    • Home conflict can surface in the workplace creating a strenuous work environment at times amongst family members that spend a great deal of time together.
  • Outsider
    • The home conflict amongst “insiders” can make the workplace uncomfortable. In the times where that family conflict surfaces in the workplace, remember to stay neutral and not get involved in the situation.
    • Ownership may be less susceptible to ideas and criticisms from non-family, especially opinions about family members.
    • It is easy to feel excluded when those without a genetic connection to ownership are the minority

 

Overall, if a family is able to leave home conflict at home, make a clear chain of command, reward fairly, and hear the ideas of all employees, that strength of family can be transferred to the strength of a successful business.

 

Author: Christine Deskovic

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