HR Policies for Family Employees

Filling The Void

When a person leaves a family business in which there was conflict and anger, you might assume that things would become better on a personal level, simply because relatives' egos don't collide daily, and they aren't forced into joint decision-making. That's not necessarily so, warns Lane. "They still have to deal with the leftover baggage from the departure transition," he says. Unless they do, relatives are going to continue to feel hurt, duped or disappointed, and relationships will never be completely salvaged.

One way to deal with the fallout is to keep talking--even though the patterns of communication have changed for good. If siblings have been used to sharing personal information during the day, for example, they'll have to make the effort to call each other for a few minutes in the evening to continue the flow or make arrangements to go out to dinner once a week to catch up.

John Ryan has done that. And it has worked out. On the family's annual Fourth of July family get-together, golf games are no longer punctuated with arguments over how to handle projects. They're times of fun and sharing. "Fortunately, we have strong family ties," he says. "So though it was hard initially, I felt pretty confident in the end they would understand the need I had to be on my own. And they did, finally."

Patricia Schiff Estess publishes the newsletter Working Families and is the author of Managing Alternative Work Arrangements (Crisp Publications) and Money Advice for Your Successful Remarriage (Betterway Press).

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Flying The Coop.

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