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The Family Business - The struggle to separate family and work

Family-owned businesses face many challenges that other companies do not. I am choosing to discuss communication since it is paramount to the success of every business.

Communication in a family business brings the baggage of familiarity and the opportunity of never-ending shop talk; both are a source for conflict just because it is happening and not necessarily because of the content.

Family business communication tends to cause personal life and business life to bleed together. This could mean never-ending work and the absence of personal space/life balance.

In my experience working with family-owned businesses, one of the antidotes for improving communication is establishing a firm boundary. Set a boundary that is physical when you are not at work. For example, no shop talk unless you are in a specific room in the house. In other words, the dining room is out; the kitchen is out; the living room is out; and so is the bedroom. Ironically the family room could be the choice venue where a business-related "meeting" can be called and held.

A firm boundary surrounding a physical room creates an intention, and buy-in from all parties, regarding having a business conversation outside of the business. Not only will this make meetings intentional, but it will support the much-required family time and work/life balance we strive for and need.

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