The secret to being an employee in a family-owned business

Family-owned business dot the landscape in the United States and around the globe. A family-owned business can employ thousands or just a small team. The challenge of being their employee is often high stakes and you need to keep a few things in mind if you are working for one.

Career pros provide listening sessions for clients

One of the jobs of a career professional is to be a sounding board to her (or his) clients even after they have landed. Recently, I had a client contact me thinking she was ready to move on and she was ready to update her resume. But I don’t  want anyone moving if they have had less than two years or more in a position so we talked it through.

Apparently her employer had just told her he was withholding commission for a real estate deal she had just closed. He stated that they had contacted them before she was hired, and therefore it didn’t count. But it was a cold contact for more than six months and it was only with her efforts that they decided to move forward.

The kicker was that his adult child was in the room during the conversation and my client believed that made a difference. I asked why the adult child was privy to compensation conversations and learned that he / she  does payroll.

Here in lies the problem. When you bring a child into the business, you have to analyze how the child will react, how you will react, not to mention if the child is truly qualified to hold the position.

Turns out that his child was not happy about the commissions my client was earning. Jealousy is a powerful motivator.

I remember in another company, the daughter was HR but she had no experience. She lobbied for a an individual to be rehired after the individual had been dismissed for cause, failing to complete the assignments while at the same time agitating the rest of the work force. If you hire a family member, they need to have the skill set to do the job.

In other cases, I have seen children hired who have no skill sets but they need a job so they are hired. Frequently they get promoted to management level and then ride out the position without actually doing any work.

The secrets to working in a family business

  1. If you are the business owner, hire a child or other family member only if they are trained at the level of the job. Showing favoritism never does anyone a favor.
  2. If you are the parent, make sure you don’t make decisions out of pressure from a child.
  3. If you are the employee, be sure you understand the family dynamics. You are unlikely to win if you pit parent against child in most cases.
  4. If you are the parent, make sure than you give your children real jobs with real work and hold them to the same standards as other employees.
  5. If you are a spouse, respect the business enough that you don’t bring family business to the office that could wait until after work hours.
  6. If you are a spouse who stays home with the children, make sure that you don’t expect your partner who works from home to be available during client appointments to deal with small children.

This is just a sample of the issues you face in a family business and there many more. As an employee, you have a challenge to be the employee in a family run business no matter the size of the business.

Julie Walraven can help you achieve results through using a personalized job search and resume writing  strategy to take the mystery out of the process. To find out how, simply click here!

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

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