Family Business Management Isn’t For the Faint of Heart

I don’t know anybody who enjoys reprimanding employees, dealing with performance issues or having to fire someone. Imagine what it’s like if this employee is your mother/father, sister/brother, daughter/son, cousin or aunt/uncle. Managing isn’t easy and family business management adds another dimension to the equation: the family. It’s more than just having family members as part of the business. Families operate much like an ecosystem, and when one part of the ecosystem is impacted, other parts are as well. In all businesses, we deal with issues such as divorce and illness of employees. But we aren’t intimately involved with all the details and aren’t taking sides, as often happens in a family business.Consider how difficult it would be if your brother-in-law who works for the family business is divorcing your sister. And in family businesses assumptions are made unlike those made in other businesses. “They will understand if I have to stay home with my sick child” or “I don’t have the same rules as non-family-member employees” or “I won’t get fired because I’m family.” It takes courage to make the tough decisions that are good for the business, even when it may not be good for the family. Family business management requires backbone, fortitude and a whole lot of chutzpah to continually focus on the health of the business instead of the family or family members. If you are in charge of the family business management, I applaud you, for this role isn’t for the faint of heart.