Plenty of family businesses don’t start out that way. Every business owner worth their salt knows that the phrase “it’s who you know, not what you know” isn’t necessarily a pejorative: taking trusted recommendations about new hires can be great because a known quantity is often a lower risk than a complete stranger. And even in a business with no familial involvement, bringing on a family member with the skills to help your business can be the endpoint of this mode of thinking. The difficulty with this approach is negotiating the feelings of your current staff who are often predisposed to assume the worst when they hear you’ve hired a member of your family. So how can you navigate these murky waters?
Last month, we took a look at one of the trickiest situations for any family business: addressing low-performing employees who also happen to be your family members. We covered how to identify, discuss, and resolve performance issues, and how to handle the worst-case scenario—firing a family member. One of the key takeaways of this was how to communicate with your family members about their interests, passions, and unique skill sets in the hopes of identifying where inside (or outside) your business they would find the most success.
This week, we’ll follow up on this, looking more closely at how to best support a family member whose life and career aspirations lie outside your business. While this topic is mostly about improving your familial relationships, your business acumen can and will come in handy, so keep reading.
If you’re running a business with your family, you know that one of the largest, most overarching difficulties is in balancing the (physical, emotional, spiritual, communal) health of your family unit and family members with the (financial, economic) health of your business. We’ve spoken at length before about how easy it is to fall prey to naïve thinking when it comes to running a family business: you know these people inside and out, you love and care for them, you understand their unique strengths; who better to work with on a day-to-day basis? However, almost every family business has a moment where reality sets in: A family member’s job performance simply isn’t up to standard. Between standard anxieties about reviewing job performance and the added difficulty of unique family dynamics, you have a tough situation that needs to be addressed with compassion, love, honesty, and integrity.
Children may not place the same value on a family business as their parents do, which can create huge conflicts at the time of succession.
One of the most fundamental human goals is to live a life that won’t be forgotten. From the works of William Shakespeare to modern film like Inception and Coco, humanity has always loved exploring what it means to leave your legacy. For a great many people, the easiest way to create a lasting legacy is through your family. Even the simple act of creating a family unit is a method of preserving your memory, but there can be so much more involved in leaving a concrete, appreciable legacy for yourself through the generations. Insurance company Allianz put out a survey of how Americans are passing their legacies onto younger generations, and formalized four “pillars” of inheritance:
1) Values and Life Lessons
2) Instructions and Final Wishes
3) Personal Possessions of Emotional Value
4) Financial Assets and Real Estate
Family business members need to share with each other what they need to thrive and be successful within their families and companies.
For so much of the world, the holiday season is a time of rest: a last chance to take off work, relax, and spend time with family and loved ones before the new year. But for many family businesses, this can be one of the most anxiety-producing times of the year: when a family is constantly pressured to spend both quality time with each other without reprieve from running a successful business, heightened stress levels are almost inevitable. Now that we’re past the holidays, let’s take a deep breath and reflect on the importance of setting up systems that allow you to take refuge and create balance from the family business any time of the year.
“All people are born with unique gifts.” We hear this so often that we start to take it for granted. However, with the right frame of mind, we can use this as an important directive towards living a happy, fulfilling life, rather than merely an empty truism. Happiness is a function of purpose, and in the broadest terms, our purpose is to discover our own unique gifts, and work to understand and manifest these gifts in our day-to-day lives.
In previous posts, we’ve brought up author and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of Flow, and how three things—work, active leisure time, and service/philanthropy—all contribute to this state of optimal fulfillment. By seeking to understand our individual gifts and talents and how they can be used within these three aspects of our life, we can begin to see our purpose and put our energy into that which brings us true happiness.
It’s common knowledge that money is one of the biggest sources of conflict in a relationship, and the same holds true in a family business. It’s easy to determine how to pay an employee you have no personal attachment to, because their work and experience should speak for itself. But as soon as you have to pay your loved ones for the work they do, tension, conflicts of interest, and other problems can readily present themselves.
Gratitude is the glue that holds personal relationships and family businesses together.
Take this risk-free first step in ensuring the continued success of your family business now. There is no charge for the orientation meeting other than out-of-pocket expenses for travel.
Does your family business need help with succession planning, conflict resolution, management or other issues? If so, we'll arrange a one-on-one orientation meeting with you and Tom Hubler to help you explore the possibilities of working with us. If you choose, your family and business associates can also attend. Here, in a relaxed environment, you can talk about:
Hubler for Business Families helps family businesses manage the boundary between their business/financial concerns and family relationships.
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