Does Working with Family Work?


By Rigor C. Arellano

“You’re fired, dad.”

Whoever pulls off those words avoiding any awkwardness afterwards deserve a noble, peace prize.

No matter what culture or background, family relationships getting harmed by business is no lovely thing. So, does working with family actually work?

It depends on the kind of family.



Recognizing and Respecting Roles

If the family is one who recognizes that not all of them are decision-makers rather assigned to specific roles, then that’s one good sign the family business will work.

As with employee relationships, “it is critical there is a clear definition of roles, responsibilities, and reporting,” says Red Rocket Ventures CEO George Deeb.

With recognition comes respect. In the case where one or two of the children will be the CEO, then the parents must respect the vision, direction, and rules that their offspring will impose.

Suggestions can come from anyone of course, but final decisions should always be left to the persons-in-charge. Bottomline is if you trust others, more so your own.

The CEO must also ensure that before business starts, everyone is in a role they actually like. Treat it as both a strategic HR move and extra concern for your loved ones. Employees won’t only be there because they have to, but because they enjoy it.

Forming and Forging Relationships

Good family business owners acknowledge that they don’t know and can do everything on their own. For those things, they welcome others to step in.

Otherwise, take this case study that Deeb told in his article:

A family-owned company took in professional managers to upscale their business. They, however, dismissed the long-term investment suggestions by the outsiders, and later on placed the whole business plan in jeopardy.

If no man is an island, no family is an entire village too. If you’re not comfortable inviting new people into your business circle, then trust your loved ones who’ll be able to do so.

Having an outsider’s point of view can bring a fresher take on things and add insights to where your company is heading and could go.

Thinking and Seeing Long

Thinking long-term involves considering realities such as age. A 60-year old CEO, for example, needs to factor in their retirement, and thus enough time and training for their replacement.

“Poorly designed leadership roles set up a family business for failure,” according to John A. Davis, a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School.

One helpful leadership tip would be to make sure that your company has a vision — and not a short-term one.

Looking at a certain goal and driving towards it can help you make good decisions now and take the right opportunities as they come. And to lead your workmates well, you must get them all on board with it. Your vision can serve as guide for the kind of product or service your company has or will offer.

Careful Considerations

The idea of passing a family business from one generation to the next is awe-inspiring.

But not doing business with your family doesn’t mean that you don’t get along well at home. In fact, that may be a good reason why you’ll stay that way.

As Deeb argues when working with family, “the normal work-life balance can get completely thrown out of alignment.”

So carefully consider the fact that when you see the same people at home and at work, blurring lines between business and personal matters could come very easy. Family discussions could end up at work and vice versa, unnecessarily complicating your lives.

Truth is, whether they work with you or not, no amount of profit is worth losing your family over.

So will working with your family work?

Consider all things necessary; above all, what’s more important. Business is usual; family is family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *