Family businesses account for 90 percent of all businesses in the U.S., both large and small in size, according the Small Business Administration. Needless to say, many Americans work in an environment with family dynamics.
If you are the owner of a family business, then you know that a special set of challenges can accompany running it. We discuss a few problems today and provide suggestions to resolve them.
1. Family members bring family politics to work.
It is very difficult forto leave personal problems at home, but that needs to be the goal, especially in a family business.
Work is work, and everyone’s goal is the same: increase the bottom line. Family politics or disagreements need to be put aside for eight hours so that the company can continue functioning properly. If family members can’t do that, then everyone’s job is in jeopardy, and things will only get worse.
- Communicate that all decisions made at work are in the best interest of the company—not based on who likes who
- Establish a clear chain of command
- Explain the effect of family bickering: bringing down the morale of everyone, decreased , etc.
2. Non-familyare disgruntled because of perceived favoritism.
On the flip side, family business owners must make sure that non-family staff trusts them. They earn this trust by treating all employees equally and fairly. Don’t give your staff any reason to believe or suspect that your relatives are favorites.
- Go to lunch with all employees, not just your relatives
- Communicate often with everyone, not just with your relatives
- Publically praise both family and non-family workers on a regular basis
- Clearly outline the chain of command to every employee and make sure that everyone understands it. Let your entire staff know that nobody, not even family members, can go around each other to get a desired result.
- Stand by your employees’ decisions no matter who they are related to
3. A relative must work with you but doesn’t add value.
Oftentimes, there is always one family member that just can’t pull their weight. Whether it’s because they lack the skill set or they are just lazy, the relative can’t or won’t contribute positively to the company.
If you find yourself with this problem, you have several options. None of them are quick fixes, as all options require patience and time so that you can hopefully find the right fit for your relative.
- Provide extra training and/or send them to productive workshops
- Assign a non-family mentor so they can learn from others
- Allow them to shadow employees in various departments so they can discover which area they like the best. If they like their work, hopefully they will work harder and improve.
- If they can’t find a good role, encourage them to go back to school to find out what they are passionate about.
Generational Equity specializes in helping owners of family companies sell their businesses. They know the ins and outs of running and growing one mostly because they are family run. For information about how to sell a family-owned business, click here.