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5 Steps to Family Business Harmony

Out of the 5.5 million family-owned businesses, 90% of them feel their success is due to their accomplishments in the community, longevity as a business, and goal to keep employees and constituents happy. Having a tight team of relatives helps with all three of these commitments, but it is not without a lot of work.

The good news is that developing harmony in a family business is the stepping stone to success.

Read on to discover the 5 elements that help get your family and your business on track.

1. Offer Different Solutions for Business and Personal Problems

A harmonious family company does not mean that conflicts will not arise. In fact, problems are bound to occur, however, how you handle them is all that matters.

For example, if there is a problem, the first thing that should happen is to determine whether it is a work or personal issue. If it does relate to business then a business solution should follow.

Business Solution

A business solution should follow the same protocols as any other place of employment. Involve a third-party mediator like a human resources representative or a supervisor. Both sides of the argument are listened to and the mediator asks relevant questions to get to a solution.

If wrongdoing has occurred such as stealing then a reprimand must be filed. Do not make special exceptions to misconduct because someone is a family member. This is especially true if only one person involved in the problem is a relative and one is not.

Personal Solution

A personal problem within a successful family business should be handled outside of the workplace. Set aside a time for both individuals to speak when the workday is finished.

However, if the personal problem affects their work then both people should be sent home to avoid the problem leaking into the business side of operations.

Keeping personal and business problems separate in a family-run business will ensure that there are no conflicts of interest when it comes to success.

2. Create Trifold Balance

As an owner or employee of a family business, you have an individual responsibility to hold onto a balanced work-, family-, and self-life.

You do not want to bring your work home nor do you want to bring your home to work. Plus, you need time to yourself to relax and reflect.

Being a family operation, this balance is even harder. Your family may be present in both your place of residence and place of employment. This is why it is important to treat each other differently according to the environment.

Do not let the three versions of yourself bleed over into the next. This will make all three roles overwhelming and confusing as you try to play multiple roles.

You may also find that you lose the family version of yourself because you are too focused on work even at home. Or you might never achieve your business success because you are acting as a relative rather than a professional at work.

A great exercise is to make a diagram of three circles intersecting. Write down various characteristics that define each part of your persona and where they meet. It is ok to have overlap, but there should be defining aspects that are only in each circle separately.

3. Develop Lines of Communication

Running a family business sometimes means there is a confusion about who is in charge or even competition to be the manager. Deciding who makes the decisions and which direction the lines of communication go needs to be defined.

Creating a family governance plan where roles are assigned according to seniority, skill sets, and responsibilities will develop this line of communication.

You do not want employees deciding who their boss is or taking over a boss’s role without permission. So, just like any other business, there needs to be a hierarchy in place and a process for delegating tasks, getting permissions, and giving out promotions.

4. Take Time Away From the Business Side

It is estimated that 56% of employees spend more of their free time with co-workers than they do with their families. While this is a big issue for people trying to balance their work and personal life, it is even more controversial when trying to have a family business harmony.

This is because when you work with relatives you may tend to consider it “family time,” which is not the case. When working with family, taking time away from work with your loved ones is important to separate family from the business side of your life.

And when you do get away with your family leave business out of the topic of discussion. You need to remember what it is like to have fun and not revert to business talk with those that you love.

5. Celebrate the Family Lineage

The true success of a harmonious family business is when you can look at how far you and your family have come. The next generation as well as your customers will enjoy hearing about the business’ launch and the accomplishments, expansions, and milestones along the way.

You can do this by writing the family business story on your “About Us” page of the website. Also, keep records and celebrate each benchmark. Highlight these in a newsletter that is archived to be referenced and remembered.

Bring up your family business lineage at company events and even include it in the hiring orientation. Employees who are not relatives will appreciate the stability of a long line of devoted employees throughout the years.

Professional Help for Family Business

Following these guidelines for a successful family business are great internal solutions to have a thriving company. However, outside assistance makes issues like conflict resolution, internal governance, and succession planning even easier.

See what our team has to offer your business by contacting us for a consult today.