All in the Family

by Business Coach Chuck


Take all of the challenges of running a business, add family.  What a stew!!  Sometimes it is a wonderful stew and some times it is a witches brew. 

A prospective client called me.  "It's my employees" she said, "they act like children." 

Two of the employees, I discovered, were her children.  They were key managers.  I will state the obvious: they were acting like children because they were her children. The ones that weren't her children were working for her children and patterned themselves after their boss, her children. Later,  I observed that not only did they act like her children in the workplace, but, indeed, she acted like their mother. Statements among the three of them were like, "I feel betrayed."  "That is just childish." This is not exactly the kind of language you'd expect to hear between a boss and employee. Boss employee language might be something like, "you did not give the support in this situation we had agreed upon," or,  "you did not perform this task correctly."  The language was personal rather than professional. 

What makes business business is that problems are simply challenges to be managed.  Wherein our personal lives it is much more important that they be resolved.  Two Examples:

Harry and Mary really can't stand each other.

            They are both top sales people on the show room floor of a car dealer.  They are not related.  No one in the dealership is related. To the manager: these valuable people are component parts of a whole with an interpersonal dysfunction to be managed.  Perhaps they are managed the same way that incompatible chemicals would be treated, and kept apart.  Maybe they are given some type of interpersonal training to help them deal with "difficult people," which each thinks the other is. There are any number of management "solutions.

Harry and Mary really can't stand each other.

            With family however, these things can not always be managed. What if Harry and Mary were brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  Let us further complicate it by saying that the spouses of Harry and Mary were very close siblings. Let us further complicate it by saying that one of the spouses was the sales manager.  Treating this as simply a business matter is likely to create major problems.  Maybe the problem doesn't show up until succession in a legal battle that embitters the members and impoverishes the enterprise, or maybe it blows up in the middle of the sales flow in front of customers.  Or, maybe it blows up in a family division that creates pain and hardship on every one.  The point is, this is a business matter.It is a personal matter.     The approach that has the potential of resolving the family matter in a way that allows the business issues to be managed involves attention to both the business and personal.  It involves recognizing that while business and personal in the family should be different, that is not always the case.

Acknowledging this reality results in the potential for a more profitable business and a happier Family. 

How this is done is as different as families and businesses are different, but it is what Business Coach Chuck does.