Most of us have experienced challenges and frustrations in our work lives. That’s a natural part of life. No job’s without its difficulties. When you or someone you love is involved with a family business the normal day-to-day challenges too often bleed over into your personal life and can become a family issue.
When you are frustrated with your boss or coworker and it’s your parent or sibling it’s easy for that to start impacting your family life. It shouldn’t. It’s like in the movie You’ve Got Mail when Tom Hanks tells his girlfriend she shouldn’t take her competitors business tactics personally – “It’s just business!”
In coaching, we call this creating healthy boundaries. Be mad at Dad or brother while you’re at the business but let it go when you get home.
We did a good job of that in our family business. I could be really unhappy with a decision Uncle Walsh was making in the business that was making my (work) life miserable but when I walked into the family holiday feast I was pleasant, engaged and didn’t give anyone the impression I was unhappy with him as my boss.
It’s important to create healthy boundaries for several reasons:
Maintaining extended family harmony
Our large family gatherings were a tradition started with my grandparents. I never wanted to allow the family business dynamics to make those parties weird or uncomfortable for anyone.
Maintaining an important relationship
In our case, Uncle Walsh and I were pretty good buds before I ever came to work in the business. I wanted to keep my relationship with my Uncle. I didn’t want that to go away. Just because he could be a pain in the neck boss it shouldn’t take away from the fact he was a pretty cool Uncle.
Create more personal peace
It was hard enough being angry with him at work – I wanted to “give it break” on the off hours. Fight your work battles at work and leave those battles at the door when you come home. I see too many people letting their work life take so much energy they have very little left for their family when they get home. I saw that in my father when he would come home angry – his anger would set the tone for the family dinner. It’s wasn’t my kids fault that I couldn’t manage my unreasonable boss
Rise above it all and figure it out
At the end of the day it was incumbent upon me to find a professional work setting that I enjoyed and was good for my life. Being an angry victim is no way to squander the short time we have in our life. I kept my work challenges at work and did everything I could to find a way to enjoy working with my boss until one day I decided to find a new boss.
This week reflect upon where you and your family are in regard to maintaining healthy boundaries between the family business and the family. Be a leader in exercising good boundaries. Fight your work battles at work and give yourself and the rest of the family a break by not letting the work drama create too much family drama.
Life’s too short. You can always find another boss or place to work. You can’t find another family.