Following four simple rules will avoid conflict among employees, whether they are family or not, and family business issues will be almost non-existent.
Rule #1: There is only one boss.
All employees agreed to and respected the final decision of the boss. The benefit of the business is uppermost when making decisions. Relationships of the employees do not come into play. Employees may be included in discussions, but the one in charge makes the final decision.
This was a tough call at times. Family members in small family businesses often think their opinion should carry more weight than just another employee. These issues soon pass if no one makes a big deal of it.
Rule #2: Everyone produces.
All employees, including family members, had a written job description. There could be no misunderstanding about what needed to be accomplished by each employee. Everyone ‘pulled their own weight’ and no task was too large or too small for anyone. Each employee, including the boss, took his or her turn with menial tasks.
We avoided favoritism for family members as non-family employees become resentful when they felt some were favored. Many times, we had discussions with employees (family and non-family) that everyone was equal. Sibling rivalry was closely monitored.
Rule #3: Leave family and family matters at home.
No discussions about family matters were held while at work. There was plenty of time before work or after work for that. Each employee had lunchtime to check on family members at home. Grandchildren were not welcome to stay at the office. Just because family worked there did not mean they could use it as a ‘daycare center’.
On special occasions all employees could leave and take care of personal matters, however, no exceptions were made for family members in the business. All were treated equally.
Rule #4: Leave business at the office.
Once the workday was over, there were no business discussions. Scheduled meetings or conferences on business days were for discussing business matters.
A family owned business can be as successful as any other small business, if operated in a large business manner. Having only one boss, everyone doing their individual job, leaving family out of the workday, and not taking business matters home are the keys to family business success.
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