Every small business owner who works with family members knows it can be both a blessing and a curse. Despite that, many small business owners are often reliant upon family members as a crucial part of their business success.
Though working with family has many negative connotations, small business owners can bridge the gap between their personal and professional lives by following several tips. First and foremost, Rubi Ho, co-author of "What’s Your Impact on Business?" (Sasha Corp., 2012), tells small business owners to have explicit and understood ground rules when working with family members. [Read related article: How to Grow Your Family Business]
Here are some other tips:
- Put the right people on the bus — Just because you have family in the business does not mean they should have all of the executive positions. Far from it. Your company should be based on performance, not affiliation or personal preference. Make sure every role is filled by the best person for the job. It can be the difference between running a good company versus a great one.
- Step up on the accountability front — This is easier said than done, but consider the impact on business when employees are not held accountable for their actions. Evaluate your employees' roles and relationships from a personal and a professional perspective. Hold one-on-one meetings addressing people’s issues and following up if necessary. Admittedly, you will feel very uncomfortable at the beginning of the process. People will be surprised by your change in behavior. Keep it up, and it will pay off for you, your employees and your business.
- Seek external help — The bottom line is that family-based businesses can become extremely sensitive at times. It’s not easy to tell your son that he’s not making the grade. The reality is that you might be too close. Don’t hesitate to seek an external consultant who can bring in an unbiased perspective and push you to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not your"problem child" is your relative.
- Get your top people executive coaching — Executive coaching focuses specifically on leadership behavior. Sometimes, people just don’t know how they are supposed to conduct themselves. We are all creatures of habit, and we love to do things our own way.
- Don't be afraid of conflict — Conflicts naturally arise because everyone acts his or her way and no one is willing to change, causing conflicts in communication and working relationships. Executive coaching grows people in the discipline of leadership and behavior, areas where any top level executive could continually benefit from.