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A Gent’s Guide to Working with Family Members
Working with a relative, be they a spouse, brother, or distant cousin, can be a very successful and rewarding business strategy. It can also be a bit tricky and can bring out the worst in your respective relationships. Here are our suggestions for managing this complex situation:
Communication should be your number one priority for making this situation work. Even though it may be harder to confront a family member about a business issue that needs to be addressed, it has to happen. Both parties involved must realize that issues have to be resolved in order for the company to be successful. While a calm and logical communication style is always preferred, it’s unrealistic to think there won’t be any heated arguments. The important thing to remember is never to deliberately attack each other personally during these time. Investing in your working relationship is investing in the business, so communicate in a valuable way as often as possible.
2. Continue Your Personal Relationship
It’s easy to fall into a routine of only seeing your relative during working hours, or only talking about work whenever you see them. You need to make an effort to continue the personal relationship you had outside of work. If you’re working with a close relative, like a sibling or spouse, be sure to set aside time where you interact and do not talk about work. If it’s a distant relative you may not have spent a lot of time with before your business venture, it may be beneficial to attend some non-work activities together so that you can get to know each other a little better.
There is no need to stress the importance of this tip if the family member is a spouse, but it’s also important to invest in your personal relationship of the more distant relatives that you work with. This will build trust and respect between the two parties, which will benefit your working relationship as well.
3. Keep Egos in Check
Egos can be a hard thing to manage, and it can be especially hard depending on the dynamic of the personal relationship between the two involved. However, successful ego management is vital to the success of the business. Nothing will come from a clash of egos.
4. Define Roles and Expectations
This tip is related to communication, but your personal relationship and your business will benefit from clearly defining the roles and expectations of both parties. Conflict and overall resentment can result when employees are confused about their responsibilities. This is especially true when working with relatives. Be sure to discuss and agree upon all facets of the position, including tasks, responsibilities, time requirements, compensation, as well as influence and power within the company.
5. Realize When It’s Not Working
Our final tip is to simply realize that these situations do not always work. Whether it be that the business is failing, there is too much strain on the personal relationship, or one of the parties involved is just ready to move on, you may have to realize that it’s time to cut your losses. Hopefully you followed the tips above and built enough trust in the work relationship that the personal relationship can be salvaged when the business ends. Trust us, you do not want to have a family member as an old, scorned business partner.
Have you discovered your own tips and tricks for working with relatives? We’d love to hear them in the comments section!
About Ben Davis
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.
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