Conflict is unfortunately a main part of many family businesses. Families bring their private dynamics into a professional space, which can impact the business in a negative way, keeping it from moving forward or potentially even causing it to crash and burn. If you’re part of a family business, you know that they can be filled with adult children who don’t want to listen to their parents, siblings competing with each other to be in charge, personal issues being aired at work and many other situations that don’t go well with a properly functioning business. These are three of the biggest conflicts family businesses face:
The Family Is Treated Differently
Sometimes, the business is only made up of family members, and loose rules and guidelines are put in place because everyone’s family. Another scenario is that the business has some family members in the staff along with people outside of the family, and the family members are treated with a more relaxed approach than the rest of the employees. In both situations, the lack of structure and rules for family members can cause problems, leading to a lack of accountability and people who don’t work as hard as they should because they don’t have to.
When there are non-family employees, it will be easy for them to resent the family members who have special treatment and to feel as though they will never be able to succeed within the company. This is why it is so important for a family business to have a similar structure to functional businesses. There should be clear goals, roles, duties, incentives, punishments and other systems in place that every employee is held accountable to, regardless of family connection.
Business Is Too Personal
One of the most difficult problems to deal with in family businesses is that it’s so easy for personal aspects of the family to seep into the family business, ruining its lifeblood. Families often deal with personal matters being brought to work and business matters showing up during family dinners and holidays. There is no line between the two spaces, which can cause a lot of family business conflict. When a family member acts a certain way at work, it might bring up feelings from a fight the family had in private. While it is easier said than done, the family needs to find a way to keep their two lives separate as much as possible. There should be boundaries, where personal issues are saved for family time and work is saved for work hours.
Difficulty With the Hierarchy
In family businesses, it is incredibly easy for emotions to come into play when it comes to the hierarchy of power. It can be difficult for adult children to have parents tell them what to do at work. In many cases, siblings end up at different levels of the power structure, which can lead to one holding power over another and one feeling resentful. Family members might try to take away duties and decisions from another. Also, who will run the business when the parent retires or dies? These are the kind of situations family members can have a lot of difficulty with. Conflict resolution, focusing on each person’s strengths and agreeing on roles can help this problem.
Now you have a deeper understanding of three major conflicts that hold family businesses back. Fortunately, it is possible for family members to work together if they take certain steps to handle problems and create a healthy work environment. If you’re dealing with family business conflict, it’s imperative to have a strong business structure in place instead of a relaxed environment where family members can get away with negative behaviors. Also, conflict resolution techniques can help solve many family business problems. It gives you ways to figure out your emotions and find ways of working together in a healthier and more productive manner.
Conflict resolution can also help you handle specific situations and meet certain goals, such as communicating better, handling a difficult parent, dealing with rivalries between siblings and naming successors without the family or the business crumbling. Dealing with problems can help the family business grow and succeed.