Home » The Family Business: Clear Policies and Operational Standards A Must for Family Members

The Family Business: Clear Policies and Operational Standards A Must for Family Members

Source: BryansBizBlog.com

One of the many challenges a family business faces is ‘how’ family member will be treated and what the expectations will be as a new family member enters into the business. Families create their unique family dynamic over time. The real question becomes, does the personal family dynamic extend into the business, or does the family adopt a ‘family business dynamic’ which is based upon the policies and operational standards of the business?

For non-family members this is a significant issue. Anyone who has worked in a business or organization which has few if any stated policies and procedures understands the likelihood of inconsistent treatment staff is a real possibility. In a family business, it is most certainly a reality. Nothing can drive employees away faster than to believe they will be treated as a second-class employee and the family members will always have special privileges. I have spoken with employees who are or have been in a family business. The single biggest complaint in my experience has been that ‘family members’ are lazy, incompetent, or both.

The best way to avoid these negative characterizations of family member-employees is to establish strong policies and clearly documented operational standards that every employee, including the family members must follow. Assuring that the ‘playing field’ is level for all employees can significantly reduce the perceptions of ‘favoritism’ and ‘no standards’ for family member-employees. By establishing strong operational standards (procedures) and holding family members to the same standards will provide non-family members with a sense of ‘fairness’ and equal opportunities within the business.

Family businesses are terrific opportunities for families to build a legacy. To create a long-term, sustainable legacy, establishing and following through with strong policies and procedures go a very long way in increasing the likelihood that legacy will stretch far into the future.

Weekly postings on management and organizational issues for both businesses and non-profits from Bryan Nelson of Vista Management Solutions.

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