Dear Coach Pete: Our business is growing and as a result I hired my wife, two sons and a daughter-in-law about two years ago. What can I do to reduce the interpersonal tension? It’s causing a lot of problems in our once loving family.—Fred
Dear Fred: This is a challenge shared by many family-owned businesses in varying degrees. If it isn’t nipped in the bud it could cause serious consequence.
A family business can be the most rewarding and enjoyable way to express your talents and create wealth or it can be a nightmare. Here are a some suggestions, keeping in mind that the business and family relationships should be kept separate as much as possible:
- Get a vision in your mind of how well you are all communicating and handling business decisions when you and your family members are in harmony and synergy with each other.
- Start creating an environment and process that foster open and proper communication with each other.
- A good way to start this process is by having a business family meeting for the purpose of brainstorming ideas and solutions. Have a specific agenda, keep it up beat, engage everyone to participate and write down every suggestion without judging them. Occasionally include some of you own to keep the flow going.
Include on your agenda questions such as-Would it be helpful to keep our business and family relationships separate? If so, what could we do to create a process to effectively communicate and make decisions without affecting our family life? How can we be a family and business associates handling the challenges, stress, accomplishments and successes while still growing the love and respect for each other.
You will be surprised how many good suggestions will come out of this, more importantly the synergy that will be created. With that information you will be well on you way to creating a more harmonious culture in your business. If need be, bring in an outside coach to facilitate the process, to dig deeper and offer different perspectives to the issues involved and/or mediate any real sticky issue.