by Adam Zack — June 2, 2021
“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
When I started work in my family’s grocery business at age 15, the store had a rule that family members couldn’t work in the same department. And members of the same family working in the store was seriously frowned upon. Fraternization between employees was so frowned upon there was actually a non-fraternization policy, which is crazy because my mom met my step-dad when she was a cashier at the store and he was general manager. He asked her out and they got married a year later! How the heck did I even get hired with that policy in place?
Over the years policies and thoughts have changed dramatically, and since 90% of small businesses are family owned, the way that family members – especially second and third generation – are treated and interact with non-family employees is worthy of discussion. On one hand, having family members participate in the operations of the business gives feelings of trust, caring and the personal touch that owners give themselves. After all, if I can’t trust Junior to lock up and turn off the lights, whom can I trust? It’s natural to want to take care of your kids, brothers, sisters, and parents. Most of the time it works out, but business owners often get blinded by the mask of family and ignore mistakes, incompetence and the effect that having lots of family involved in the business has on other employees. Working next to the boss’ kid tends to make you a little nervous that anything you say or do wrong will be shared at the family dinner table, right? When the family member gets a promotion over you, don’t you naturally think that it was because he’s family and you’re not? It can work – and work well – when the business patriarch holds his family to the same, or higher, standards that other employees are held to.
Timeliness, appearance and performance have to be the examples. When those kids in the family are just allowed to come and go as they please, work when they want and then complain to dad how some employees just don’t care, it’s time to re-implement that no-family rule again.
Filed Under: Company Blog