Working With Family: 10 Common Family Business Conflicts

Due to the professional and personal ties to the family business, it can mean encountering more conflicts than at a regular job. Anticipating these problems can allow for a plan to be in place of how to deal with them before they get any worse. There are 10 family business conflicts that are common, but they may be relatively easy to deal with should they occur.

Pay and Benefits Equality

Employees of a family business may be more likely to know the pay and benefits of their coworkers. This can cause issues if some don't feel they are getting what they deserve compared to others. They may be more inclined to voice their opinions than if the same situation were to happen at a regular job. No employee should feel that he or she is underpaid or undervalued.

Special Treatment

Certain employees may be unhappy if they feel that others are getting special treatment. Some examples include displeasure about coworkers going on frequent business trips, having better relationships with bosses, and having more requests acknowledged. Employees should not only be treated equally, but feel, as well, that they are.

Work and Vacation Time

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Employees should feel that they are receiving an equal amount of hours and vacation time compared to their coworkers. The hours are especially important if the employees are not salaried. Vacation time, although often granted according to seniority, should be distributed as evenly as possible.

Having Opinions Heard

Every employee, regardless of his seniority, must have the ability to freely express his opinions. Feeling as though he can't may result in several people feeling unappreciated. Each opinion is a potentially new way to improve the business.

Separating Personal and Professional Issues

In a family business, personal and professional issues are bound to get intertwined. There must be a rule to leave personal problems at home and not let them interfere with work. Employees should also be informed of possible consequences should they break that rule.

Living Up to Expectations

Being involved in a family business could involve personal expectations as well as professional ones. Although expressing some expectations is important, it's equally vital to avoid criticizing and, instead, compliment employees and let them know you support them. Employees that feel appreciated may be more likely to work harder.

Keeping Emotions Under Control

Family members are often more vocal with each other than they are with coworkers they aren't related to, especially when it comes to voicing displeasure. Arguments may be more common in a family business. Employees must know that they need to discuss issues calmly instead of arguing about them.

Attitude Problems

The closer emotionally that someone is to another, the more likely she is to receive the brunt of that person's emotions, even if she wasn't the cause of those feelings in the first place. All employees must know to keep emotions under control, regardless of why they're upset, and not take them out on anyone else.

Breaking the Rules

Some employees may feel that they can often break the rules, such as making personal phone calls, and not get fired simply because they're family. Everyone must be aware that if they break the rules, there are consequences to face, and getting fired could be one of them.

Slacking Off

Certain employees might slack off because they feel entitled to do so, such as leaving early or coming in late without permission. Employees must know that they all have to do the work that is expected of them and slacking off, regardless of who they are, is not an option.

At the End of the Day…

Some of the best ways to handle family business conflicts are to have the same rules for everyone, treat everyone equally, and impose a strict policy against bad behavior. To help incorporate a more positive environment, it's important to compliment employees for well done tasks and thank them for their hard work. It also helps to treat employees with special rewards, such as by giving gift cards or by ordering lunch for the entire company.

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Photo copyright to Andrew Osterberg via Flickr