Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Discover compatibilities and styles, part of Starting a Business with Family and Friends.
- Let me tell you a story about compatibilities between people in a family business. For the past 14 years I've been fortunate enough to run a family business with my wife and we're still married. We're compatible in a number of ways, but not always. We discovered very early that although we can work together on the same project, we absolutely cannot share the same office space. I have a tendency to play music, write ideas on a whiteboard and talk to myself when I'm working through something.
My wife Denise likes it very quiet and she sits at her computer and sorts through her thoughts while calmly staring at her keyboard. If we shared the same office, there's no way we we would still be married. In order to keep your family and friendship ties aligned, here are a few things for you to consider. First, physical space. Although your friends and family team may like each other, working in close quarters can change that in a hurry, heed my story and get the space you need.
Second, assignments. Make a concerted effort to leverage the strengths and capabilities of your team with a heavy emphasis on what everyone likes to do. Just because someone is good at something doesn't necessarily mean they like doing it. The happiness of your teammates will not last long if people are doing things they don't like even they're succeeding. Third, use a create and review approach. In a small family and friends team that works together to produce products, it's easy to become blind to errors or inconsistencies.
Those inconsistencies such as missing financial details like plus tax or including tax, can create tension amongst your team as well as unhappy customers. I highly recommend assigning a person to create a product, like a financial report or a product revision for a customer and then have another team member review that product with fresh eyes. It helps you produce better outcomes and allows you to ensure more than one of your team understands everything that goes out the door.
Lastly, hire help as soon as possible. If you have a task that none of your team likes to do, or lack confidence in performing tasks correctly, hire someone to do these as soon as you can afford it. It will help keep you all sane, and will help ensure you get positive results. I did this with my business with our tax filing tasks and I've never regretted it. Now, while I think these approaches can help, it's likely that you'll have people in your friendly little business that don't play friendly with each other.
Some styles and approaches just don't work well together. So here are my recommendations to address those incompatible work styles. First, don't pretend the conflicts aren't there or ignore them. Not taking action can lead to serious issues. The first and easiest approach is to separate the battling team members. If you can get things done without having the two conflicting styles to interact, that's ideal. Unfortunately, that's not always possible.
So, second, don't try to change your family members or friends. Their styles are their styles. I suggest you convene your conflicting team members and ask them to explain exactly why they approach work the way they do. Sometimes understanding brings a degree of accomodation and the conflict between styles can be reduced. Lastly, if you have two people that cannot work together, consider stepping in as the intermediary.
This is not particularly efficient, but that inefficiency is much more favorable than dealing with battles between your family and friends. People will be people but families can remain families and friends can remain friends in your business if you pay attention to your team members' styles and work with them to succeed.
- Clarifying roles and boundaries
- Discovering compatibilities and styles
- Understanding taxes and employee pay
- Having an exit strategy
- Communicating effectively
- Working day-to-day with family with friends
- Balancing family and business roles
- Handling a family crisis