Tariq Chauhan, Group CEO of EFS Facilities Services Group, discusses why parents or elder siblings may not necessarily make great bosses.
Many business owners in this family-focused region aspire to have their siblings or other family members manage their business affairs and help lead and build the empire that they have founded. It is a familiar scene in most family businesses where one or many siblings are at work. However, all is not always well when it comes to family working together. Indeed, the company’s due success might be at stake. It is essential to tweak the necessary rules of engagement from home to the office. There should be full preparedness for such inductions in the business. In all such cases, mainly where a parent and their offspring or siblings are working together, a process must be followed with extreme caution to ensure a smooth transition.
Siblings may not turn out to be the best professionals under their parent’s leadership due to their chemistry. It is not the case when mentoring or managing other non-related employees, but family relationships stand out as an exception. In the context of family businesses, blood relationship dynamics often complicate the situation between boss and employee. The paradigm shift needed in a parent’s attitude is paramount to ensure fairness for the role of a boss. This relationship often gets marred due to personal inklings and perceptions that significantly impact the desired outcome. These differences lead to simmering tensions, and at times, individual equations poison the work environment. Often, the negative impact echoes across the business corridors that are bound to affect the working culture.
It is common practice in family businesses to bring siblings and family members to work together with a parent or sibling as the boss. However, this equation gets complicated due to the family dynamics and much-needed discipline of workplace ethics that should have no exception. To succeed and to make it work, a balanced approach is necessary. Across the transition, from induction to the full integration of an individual joining, business-specific essential work ethics should be followed, with adherence to rules plus zero tolerance for emotions and any personal conclusions. Family fracas and emotional outbursts can prove to be disastrous.
One common problem with these family members at a workplace is the differences that they bring to fore instead of their containment at home or within their four walls. Their differences during their work transition or over the lifetime of the business are not just about the business strategy, board governance or routine management issues, but more of personal disputes, emotional outbursts, personality fracas based on family history, and judgmental conclusions.
Robust rules of engagement and very mature interactions are needed, avoiding any loose interfaces. Parents or elder siblings at the helm as bosses have to master a balancing act to ensure organizational fairness, and to maintain the corporate environment while dealing with an individual family member. It puts individuals in a fix as they are probably not used to seeing their parents in the avatar of boss, and they are not prepared to handle such interfaces. These are human nature issues that need to be managed with finesse, tact and care.
There are situations wherein the family member is inducted directly without any formal induction or essential appointment process. Their meteoritic rise without naturalized progression at times pose issues that are bound to adversely affect the general corporate etiquette as well as the employee-boss relationships.
Good business practice requires all family businesses to induct children through a carefully planned progression, wherein the relationship is able to evolve in a phased manner, and enough intermediate layers are there to manage this relationship. Preparedness is a must, not just from the organizational culture but also for vision, mission and goals as well as readiness for the transition that might be needed to manage the new generation’s induction.