Working with family will inevitably have its rough patches. Here are some tips that have helped other family-owned businesses work around the family dynamics.
1. Implement a clear chain of command. This will probably not mirror the family dynamic, so it’s critical to have a very clearly outlined chain of command. A hierarchy also makes it much easier for employees who are not part of the family to navigate the company. Finally, a clear chain of command allows clients to know who they need to talk to about various issues.
2. Schedule communication. If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not going to happen. You’ll want to make it a point to not assume anything. The only way to avoid that is to have regular, open communication. The best way to make communication happen is to schedule regular meetings for your family-owned business.
3. Respect investors. If family members have invested in the company but don’t work there, plan reports to them. Make it a point to keep any non-family investors in the loop as well.
4. Make a compensation plan. Do your research to determine the appropriate amount for each job description. Then, you can plan for variable compensation or bonuses.
5. Plan for additional family employees. Keep standard requirements for experience or education for those who want to work at the business. If you have a board of directors that includes non family members, that can be a valuable resource.
6. Plan for non-family employees. It can be difficult to integrate new employees when the family already has established relationships. New employees may struggle to learn the lingo and the culture. In addition, family members might want certain positions at the company and may resent bringing in someone else.
7. Have a succession plan. This is one of the biggest problems that comes up in family businesses. Succession can cause enormous strife between family members. Often, everyone will have a different opinion.
A few preventative techniques can avoid family conflicts later. Family-owned businesses face their own unique challenges. Preparing to tackle problems head-on can alleviate many of the problems commonly associated with working with family.