The How-To: Family Relationships In A Business Setting

It is very common that businesses attract stakeholder's family members to the workplace. However, all is not always well when it comes to their induction journey.

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It is very common that businesses attract stakeholder's family members to the workplace. However, all is not always well when it comes to their induction journey. To make it work, it is a bare essential to tweak the requisite rules of engagement with that family member, and make them different from what is applied at home. There should be preparedness for such inductions, and if a parent is a boss, then to ensure smooth transition, because due process and caution should be exercised.


Fathers and mothers are not necessarily the best bosses to their children in this context, or otherwise, children may not turn out to be the right professionals under their leadership. It is not the case for them when mentoring or managing others in the same enterprise, but the family, blood relationship dynamics do complicate the situation between the boss and the employee.

The paradigm shift is needed in the parent's attitude to ensure a certain level of fairness in his/her role of a boss to avoid it getting marred due to personal inklings and perceptions that can significantly impact the desired outcome. These differences lead to simmering tensions, and if these challenges compound, they can echoe across the business corridors and affect the staff morale.

Although it is a common practice in family businesses for siblings and family members to work together, with the parent often being the boss, it can get complicated. To succeed and to make it work, very careful handling is essential. Across the transition from induction to the full integration of the individual joining the business, specific vital rules need to be adhered and, the gospel truth is zero tolerance for emotions and any personal conclusions. The personal differences that usually confront this individual during their transitions, or over the lifetime in the business, are not just about the business strategy, board governance, or routine management issues, but more of personal disputes and emotional outbursts.

For that reason, this situation requires robust rules of engagement and very matured interactions in order to avoid any loose interfaces. While dealing with the individual family member, parents or elder siblings who are at the helm of the business have to do the balancing act to ensure organizational fairness and maintain the corporate environment. However, that often puts the individual in a fix as he is possibly not used to seeing his parent in the position of a boss, and many are not capable of handling that position properly.

These are common issues of human nature which need to be managed with finesse and tact. There are situations, wherein the family member is inducted directly, without any formal induction or without following any important appointment process, and later on, their meteoritic rise without a gradual and timely progression poses issues that are bound to adversely impact the usual corporate decorum as well the employee-boss relationships.

A good business practice should try and induct the children of the management through a carefully planned progression, wherein the relationship is allowed to evolve in a phased manner and with enough intermediate layers put in between to help manage this relationship.

Related: Family First: Securing Continued Growth For Family Businesses In The MENA Region