While working with family can be incredibly rewarding, it also holds its own unique set of challenges. So it is really vital to find ways to separate your personal and professional lives. This will not come easy and relies on some important strategies to ensure a symbiotic working environment and avoidance of unnecessary conflict. Further to this, those in leadership positions need to understand their strengths and weaknesses and ensure family members who work together are placed in the correct positions. These roles need to be clear and specific to their strengths, learning styles and personalities. Once in these roles, there are some key skills that family-turned-colleagues then need to master in order to ensure a neutral work environment. This begins with attitude and then relies on skills and strategies to protect both the relationships and the business.
Before the step is taken to ever go into business together, vulnerable discussions need to take place which touch on imagined dynamics, joint vision and expectations of each other. It is important that this is straightforward and respectful tackling issues like success, triumph and approaches to uncertainty which may inevitably be faced.
Listen and be objective
There is no place for ego in a family-owned business and so all parties need to leave ego and family dynamics at the door. All business dealings need to be fair and relative across the entire company, and neutrality needs to be maintained at all costs.
Trust each other
It is essential that family members in business together, trust each other's intentions. Further to this, you need to have trust in yourself in order to ascertain your own leadership abilities and ensure you are equipped to make strong objective decisions.
Keep boundaries clear
In a perfect scenario, work matters need to stay at work. Easier said than done, but this can be achieved by employing small strategies like ensuring there are no work discussions after 6 pm or on weekends. This creates a mental separation between spaces and protects the business and the relationships from muddying the waters.
Stay in your lane
Make sure you focus on your responsibilities specifically and give family members the room to grow and operate in their own roles. This is where trust comes into play, by empowering each other to trust their own process and progress, you will foster an environment of trust and mutual support.
Have fun together outside work
It is really important to have quality time together and remember each other in non-work-related roles. At the end of the day, we are all human and need to relate to each other as such. This will also be an important reminder of your deeper bond and you will spend more energy protecting it.
Learn from your losses
When you fail, it's important to feel like you can mourn that loss, talk about what went wrong and extract key learnings. At the end of the day, the business should never jeopardize your relationships - family should always come first.
The bottom line
Working with family is not for the faint-hearted but there are ways to create a strong family-run culture. If navigated with the right attitude and productive skills in place, relationships and businesses can actually blossom, and businesses can really thrive in powerful ways.