Did you know that family businesses account for 64% of the U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62% of the country’s employment, and create 78% of all new jobs? Yes, family businesses are booming, but they’re not without their pitfalls. Whether you’re managing or working in the family business, these tips will help keep the business running smoothly and help you preserve those important relationships.
- Make Communication a Priority. Many small business owners hire their friends and family because they already know they’ll be a great fit for the position, and they can trust them to get the job done. But it’s important to set clear ground rules from the beginning and always keep the lines of communication open. Nate Thatcher, CEO of Xima Software says, “I’ve partnered with my brother and we have employed our mother, father, two other brothers, cousin, brother-in-law, and both of our best friends. It’s human nature to be hardest on the people we love the most. This can make working together difficult. So it’s important to remember that relationships are more important than deals and people are more important than money.” For best results, make sure the expectations you have for your employees are clear, and always make yourself available so your employees can come to you to discuss frustrations before they escalate.
- Manage Your Family Dynamics. Working with family means that personal matters don’t always stay at home. Simply waiting to deal with family problems at work when they come up is a recipe for disaster and an awkward working environment for everyone. Establish processes and agreements for how to deal with family conflict both at the office and at home. Most problems can be avoided by addressing the four Cs: consideration, communication, connectivity, and compensation.
- Schedule Regular Meetings. Frequently meet with your employees to review company performance and productivity, and to identify areas for improvement. Many people who have managed family members say they highly rely on these regular meetings to provide an open forum for discussion and for employees to offer suggestions for improvement. Additionally, meeting regularly one-on-one with your employees helps then know where they stand and reduces the risk that non-family employees leave feeling like you’re giving preferential treatment to your family members.
With the right ground rules and clear expectations, keeping the lines of communication open, and addressing conflicts as they arise, working with your family and friends can be a highly-rewarding and successful experience.