WED 23RD MAY 2018


Bringing the family business community together

Should You Work With Your Family

12th March 2017 Paul Andrews

Working for the family business could be seen as being as fraught as actually living in the same house. How do you keep things professional when your boss is a sibling, parent or another relative?

Or simple things like how you address them at work, nicknames or first names?

According to the Harvard Business Review working with family can be extremely enriching and fulfilling. In fact in our own AXA PPP survey 35 per cent of respondents who worked in a family run business love it.  However, if something does go wrong or mistakes are made, the fallout can cause a lot of stress and shame, as that person can feel that they are being outcast from the family.  

The Institute for Family Business reports that 11.9 million people (36 per cent of UK employees) work in family owned businesses, which themselves make up two thirds of all UK businesses. This clearly demonstrates just how important they are to the economy and how well they perform overall.  They hold a unique formula for success, capitalising on unique family strengths, while actively adapting to new and ever-changing market trends.  As such, family businesses have their own unique set of pros and cons.

If you decide that working for the family business is right for you, or you already work for one, review these top tips to keep productivity levels at a maximum:

Think about working somewhere else first or taking time out 
Experiencing other working cultures and industries should be a requirement either before or during your career in the family business. You’ll get invaluable training, improve your business judgment, and build confidence. You’ll also gain much-needed perspective on what will benefit the family business, by encouraging different approaches that might get overlooked. 

Create separate boundaries from the beginning
From day one set a boundary between family time and work time. Letting the two blend into one another is a recipe for conflict.  Remember that when you are in the office you are business people and when at home you are a family. So avoid talking about business over the Sunday roast and don’t discuss family dramas at work. 

Define your role and career path
Identify that you have been put into a role that suits your experience and skill set. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your job description and that others know what role you fill, just like in an external role. Be transparent and proactive about your expectations and goals for the future, especially if you would like to hold the top job in the future.

Adopt an office voice
Pay attention to how you interact with your family, try to avoid nicknames if possible.  Actively listen and use a professional tone with one another. 

Seek independent feedback
Getting honest input when you’re the boss’s son or daughter can be difficult, if not impossible. It might be that you never receive positive feedback or how you’re performing. Seek advice from someone such as an independent board member or ask for 360 reviews to evaluate your progress and performance.

Be independent also
If family and work are one world, your own identity can be overtaken by the daily demands. For your sanity and future success, it’s critical to maintain outside interests and contacts of your own. Look at using time outside work to develop personal hobbies or taking holidays without family, so you have some breathing space.

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