Considerations when bringing your first family member into your business

Picture of John Broons
John Broons

John Broons is a globally awarded family business expert. One of only three people in Australia to hold the coveted title of Fellow of Family Firm Institute (Boston, USA), John has dedicated his working career to answering the question: how do I guide and support families in business to a place where they’re thriving?

There’s something incredibly special about working together with family members to achieve a shared vision. As a family-owned business, you have a unique opportunity to harness the power of familial bonds and create something truly extraordinary. But before you extend that invitation, it’s essential to consider a few key factors.

Family members putting their creativity to work in their family business
Roles and responsibilities alignment

Firstly, think about the roles and responsibilities that your prospective family member will assume within the business. It’s vital to have honest conversations about their skills, expertise, and passion. While it might be tempting to slot them into a particular position solely because of their family connection, it’s crucial to ensure a good fit for both the individual and the business. By aligning their talents with the needs of the company, you’ll set the stage for success.

Clear communication framework

Communication is another vital aspect to address. As a family, you likely have a shared history, inside jokes, and unwritten rules that can add depth and charm to your personal relationships. However, when you step into the realm of business, it’s important to establish clear lines of communication, objectives, and expectations. Regular check-ins, team meetings, and open dialogue will not only ensure a smooth transition but also foster a healthy work environment.

The importance of formal agreements

To safeguard your relationship and the longevity of your business, it’s wise to create a formal agreement or contract. This document will outline the terms of employment, roles and responsibilities, performance expectations, and even exit strategies if needed. While it may feel a tad formal, remember that a well-structured agreement sets the stage for a harmonious working relationship and can even help prevent potential conflicts down the road.

Fairness and transparency

It’s important to touch on the topic of fairness. In any family business, the perception of fairness can play a significant role in maintaining trust and harmony. Ensure that every family member understands the rationale behind business decisions, promotions, and opportunities for growth. Establishing transparent processes for advancement and addressing any conflicts or concerns in a fair and equitable manner will foster a supportive and respectful work environment.

And last but certainly not least, celebrate and cherish the joy of working together as a family. Family businesses have a unique ability to create meaningful legacies that span generations. So, take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the strength that comes from combining your personal and professional lives. Embrace the pride of building something extraordinary with your family members.

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