In the previous blog, we left off with the first set of pros and cons of running a family business, which was the dilemma of a sense of responsibility sometimes turning into resentment towards feeling obligated. Hopefully, becoming aware of the likelihood of these problems arising will increase our ability to recognize them when we see them, and handle them in the best way we can.
Before diving into the next set of pros and cons, it may be interesting to recall some of the greatest NBA dynasties. There’s the Celtics and Lakers of old, the Celtics and Lakers of new, the Bulls of the 90’s and, the one we’ll focus on, the Lakers of the 2000’s. The Los Angeles Lakers, with three championships won in a row from 2000-2003, and athletes like Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Shaquille O’Neil, and Kobe Bryant, were a force to be reckoned with, and for a while they were the team to beat.
Why go into to detail about a NBA team when we are talking about family businesses? Believe it or not, there is a point I am trying to make other than bragging about my Laker knowledge (but let’s be honest, the only reason I know anything at all about this team is because at the time, I was old enough to care about the sport and young enough to have enough time on my hands to really pay any attention to professional sports). The LA Lakers are a prime example of a team who struggled to unify on the court while strongly disliking each other outside of the game. Perhaps, it may have already become obvious to some that I am talking about two players in particular, who happened to be arguably, the most talented athletes on the team (with the exception of one when it came to his free throws). I am of course, referring to Shaq and Kobe.
Years after they played together, it came out that the two actually couldn’t stand each other; so much so that they didn’t even want to autograph the same ball. That’s basically saying I despise you so strongly, that not only do I personally not want to be anywhere near you, but I don’t even want my signature to be anywhere near yours. That is some intense hatred.
Then how come we didn’t know anything about it until after the fact? Well, there is a reason we had no idea: they determined that is was more important to put their feud aside and play as a team in order to be victorious; and for a long time, they were.
A family business might do well to learn from and follow in their lead. Let’s keep this in mind as we move onto the second set of pros and cons.
Pro: Working as a Team
As a family, chances are you know each other extremely well. Each other’s strengths and weaknesses are usually common knowledge, which can be a huge benefit to a group of people who are trying to come together to complete a common goal. You know who you can count on to get certain jobs done, and who will need some help in other areas.
My siblings and I fit this description perfectly. We, like many siblings, have grown up together, and have plenty of inside jokes (mostly from our favorite TV shows and movies), can understand what the other is thinking just by the look on our faces, and know who to go to for whatever areas we might need help in. Need someone to encourage you to be more caring? Go to my sister. Struggling to make a decision? My brother will listen to you for hours if that’s what you need.
This knowledge can easily be carried over to your business. Things like communication and talent are aspects that most companies have to come to understand about their employees over a period of time. For a family business, this is known before the doors are even open.
However, with this understanding of your “teammates” comes an edge of competition. This is especially true for a family, who already deals with this issue outside of the business world.
Can you say sibling rivalry? It is a rather unfortunate part of any family dynamic which is usually overcome with age. The children grow up to lead separate lives, with different careers and their own families; there’s no room to compete. But put these same siblings in a business together, and all those old insecurities are likely to make their reappearance.
Furthermore, there is also competition between parents and their children as well. Because they are related, parents and children often have a similar skill set. When bringing them into your business, it can often feel like somebody is trying to take your place, and there is a worry that they may be able to do the job better than you. This can lead to jealousy, anger, and resentment; problems that can take a team down if they are not dealt with.
Although, there is almost no way to avoid having these problems appear at some point in your family business, we know they can be overcome.
Again, look at the Lakers. They all had a shared objective: Win! They knew that if they let their personal issues affect them when it came time to play, they would never be the great team they came to be. They had to make the conscious decision that success was more important than petty rivalries.
Not to say that there are not reasons for feeling like you have to compete with your family. It can be hard to shake off those old feelings that have followed you from your youth. Maybe there is justification for the way you feel, but it is best to try as hard as you can to leave these struggles off the court, or in the business’s case, outside of the office.
Instead, make the common goal of your business to succeed. Appreciate each other’s strengths and try to help each other with your flaws. Understand, as a group, as a business, and as a team, that everyone will try their best to bring a sense of teamwork to the table, and not a sense of rivalry.
© Landmark Signs Inc. 2011
© Landmark Signs Inc. 2011