We’ve all heard the phrase “following in my father’s footsteps” – but does that phrase indicated that you have to find a way to step exactly into each step? Or does it come down to just sticking to a similar trail? When it comes to following in the footsteps of the previous generation in a family business, finding your own footholds is vital part of helping the company thrive AND still wanting to talk to your mom or dad when the phone rings.
What I’m saying is that you have to find the right balance between work and life, especially when it comes to working in – and eventually inheriting or passing on – a family business. Here are some solutions families can use to build a healthy working relationship while maintaining a happy relationship at home:
Create boundaries: Make sure that all family members involved in the business understand that there is a time for work and a time for family. Although it’s difficult, try to keep those two things separate. It’s also important to respect the boundaries of others, and remember that Christmas is not the time for a board meeting even if you’re all in the same room!
Compartmentalize: If you’re bringing a family member into the business and you want that person to take any level of ownership in the business, give them certain tasks or departments to oversee and lead. Not only does this take some of the day-to-day operations off your plate, but it also gives your family member a place to grow and make their own. Also, work to keep work at work and home at home, no matter how tempting it may be to talk shop over Sunday dinner.
Build an Identity: If you’re the one joining the family business, you need to be more than Mr. Smith’s daughter or Mrs. Johnson’s son. You have to earn the respect of your employees as your own person and not just as the next generation and that all starts with building an identity. It’s also a good idea to find a place where your name doesn’t matter – like as part of a community group.
– Growth Coach President Nathan Owens