Sunday, October 24th, 2021

How to Be the Boss When Working With Family

By Guest Blogger on Jun 04 2012 • Filed under How-To

How to Be the Boss When Working with Family (Photo: Faakhir Rizvi)Working with family can be a very rewarding experience – or it can be an absolute nightmare. If you find yourself in the position of employing family members when running your own small business, it’s important to know how to effectively manage your loved ones and strike the perfect balance between attachment and professionalism.

Know the challenges from the start
It’s critical that you enter a family business with your eyes wide open. Knowing there will be unique challenges right from the start will prepare you to handle them in a delicate yet realistic manner.
Sit down with family members before beginning work together and have an open discussion about what you foresee to be possible problems that may arise. Allow everyone involved to be part of the brainstorming session and be sure to keep the mood light yet professional. As manager, you must establish the fact that you are the boss while at work and that everyone is going to have to give you all due respect. Remember, this is essentially your first business meeting and it will set the tone for those to come.
Create a specific plan for the workplace
Success does not happen by accident, it is planned for ahead of time. It is crucial for your business for all of your employees to understand this. Creating a business plan specific to you and your family will optimize your efforts toward success. Consider establishing rules and boundaries for the workplace in advance so there can be no awkward situations or misunderstandings down the road.
Decide as a team to keep personal issues outside of the workplace. Should any personal matters arise, commit to resolving them on personal time, not company time. And finally, plan to keep everyone focused on business objectives and dedicate all efforts to keep work and home as separate as possible.
Communication should be a top priority
Communication is key in any healthy relationship, and this is particularly true for family members who work together. Misunderstandings can occur when individual responsibilities are not clearly established and comprehended. Define everyone’s unique roles before work begins so each team member knows exactly what his or her part is in the day to day operations.
How you speak to each other is equally important. Many family members interact on the job as they would at home, but this is not the best choice and can lead to a sloppy environment. Keep your words and tone as professional as you can at all times. Again, make sure everyone understands and abides by this guideline.
Separate work and home
It will be challenging, especially at the beginning, but it’s important to keep personal feelings and business goals separate. For example, loving your family member and assuming they can do no wrong may work at home, but it will not help move the business forward, and may even cause conflict with some of the other employees who are not relatives. Instead, respect your family member and give them positive feedback when it’s warranted, but also offer constructive criticism as well.
Plan for an eventual exit 
In any organization it’s important to have an exit strategy in place, but this is especially true in a family business where, even though the business relationship may end, the personal relationship continues to exist. You don’t want to create animosity within your family, so outline a specific exit plan in the beginning that will allow the business partnership to dissolve in the most amicable way possible. When or if a split eventually happens, make every effort possible to keep business and personal feelings separate.
Working with family members will definitely pose unique challenges both to your business and your personal relationships. As long as everyone is aware of these challenges upfront, and plans are put into place that will address them in a professional manner, there is no reason why your relationships cannot thrive while your business succeeds.

Erin Palmer works for University Alliance and writes about human resources certification offered by partner universities. 

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