Family businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand economy. They are very common. However, mixing family relationships and business can be great, or it can be a recipe for disaster, both at home and at work.
So here are five simple tips to keeping family and business relationships harmonious:
1. Keep work at work and home at home. Try to ensure that there are no discussions at the family dinner table about work and what happened there today. If you cannot discuss it in 8-10 hours at the office, it cannot be that urgent and it can wait until tomorrow. You still need to be a family.
2. If possible, have children report to or be mentored by non-family members. The size and scale of many businesses will not allow this, but where it does then do so. It will be better for the children to hear any constructive criticism from a third party as they probably have long since stopped listening to Mum and Dad.
3. Benchmark family remuneration by using third party data or providers. Parents believe they pay too much while children feel they are underpaid.
4. Up front appoint a trusted third party to referee any major issues that may arise. Do not wait until one does. Empower them to make a decision that is binding. However, they do need to be independent and it should only be used for significant matters, not any minor item in disagreement.
5. Be transparent about performance by family members. They should have the same 6 or 12 monthly performance reviews as other staff. Treat them as if they were not family members.