Every family is different and all families have their own set of challenges – no family is immune to conflict. From the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) of family patriarchs and matriarchs, to sibling rivalries, to college and marrying expectations…families are complex, and when you add a family business to the mix, the whole dynamics of a family can change.
The culture of the family is important and it plays a critical role in how it impacts business performance and family relationships. When the family has positive morale and a healthy culture, these go a long way in supporting:
- Good communication,
- Ease of navigating generational differences,
- Upholding family and business boundaries that work,
- Retaining and inspiring non-family employees, and
- The minimization of conflict and drama.
Let’s take a closer look at the above areas and break them down so we can better understand how each of them are affected by family dynamics and morale.
1. Good Communication
Good communication is key when it comes to a happy family, but it’s equally important to a family business. If a family has poor communication, it almost always pours over into the family business. When families end up fighting in the office or in the field, it affects the morale of the employees and the whole company.
Family arguments are unprofessional and they shake the stability of the company. To avoid conflict at the office, family members need to set professional boundaries and establish rules for good communication, whether it’s in the office or in a meeting with the company’s leadership figures. In the professional setting, family members need to treat each other more like non-family to avoid lowering everyone’s morale.
2. Ease of Navigating Generational Differences
Naturally, younger generations look up to older generations, and older generations can see themselves as having more wisdom and experience. Sometimes though, generational gaps lead to stereotyping and gloomy thoughts along the lines of, “He’s a relic and doesn’t understand business today,” or “She’s too young and knows nothing.” Instead of viewing generational differences as negatives, the idea is to see older and younger generations for what they are – incredible assets to the company that bring different types of value.
3. Upholding Family and Business Boundaries That Work
The one thing that family members tend to be in family businesses is “comfortable.” Sometimes, too comfortable. Often, family members will say and do things that would have a human resources department up in arms if such antics were committed by non-family employees. For a family business to truly thrive, it’s critical that ground rules be established and for all family and business boundaries to be upheld.
4. Retaining and Inspiring Non-Family Employees
For a family business to thrive and grow, it will need to add non-family employees to the team. The trick is to ensure that non-family employees feel as if they are being given a fair shot and are treated equally. They can’t feel like they’re not as good because they’re not related to the business owners.
To inspire and retain non-family employees, they should feel appreciated and valued, and they need to have a way to work their way to the top. It’s important to promote non-family employees from within. Otherwise, non-family employees will feel discouraged and can be on the lookout for the next best thing.
5. Minimizing Conflict and Drama
Families are experts at creating conflict and drama but it has to stay home. Families can’t be sharing their personal problems with the entire office, nor can they let personal issues get in the way of running the family business. To leave the drama at home, family members need to establish strict rules about personal conduct, respecting each other’s privacy in the office and not oversharing family issues with fellow employees.
To run a successful family enterprise, it requires a delicate balance of love, appreciation, respect, and professionalism. And it all starts with family dynamics and morale. For the leaders of family businesses, it’s vital that they get the family on board. All family members working in the business must agree to treat each other with dignity and respect and to focus on good communication inside and outside the office. This way, everybody wins. Families stay intact and they can weather the storm inherent to a growing business.
To get professional assistance from a seasoned business coach, contact AdviCoach. We work with family businesses every day and understand the unique challenges faced by families who are trying to succeed in business and in life.