Working with family members presents a unique set of challenges, but they are not insurmountable. Use these nine tips for creating a family work envirnoment where everyone gets along.
“Work with family? I could never do that.” If you’ve ever thought this, you’re not alone. So many people think that their family dynamics just could not transfer to the workplace.
But I’m here to tell you it’s possible. I founded a company that employs several of my children and their spouses. Working closely with family members has its challenges, but it’s also so fulfilling to build something meaningful together.
Here are 9 things we do as co-working family members to make it work:
1. Understand and respect each other’s true natures.
I developed a system called Energy Profiling, which identifies the 4 main ways that people move through the world. This system helps us understand each other’s personalities, priorities, gifts and challenges. I know which family members on my team jump right in and which ones need time to think decisions through. By understanding one another’s tendencies and traits, we can communicate more effectively to avoid emotionally triggering each other.
2. Keep it professional.
My children never refer to me as Mom in the workplace. They call me by my first name, Carol.
3. Respect roles and responsibilities.
We recognize who has the decision-making power over certain areas in our company and we support that family member. For example, my son-in-law is the CEO. Although I am the Founder, it is important that I respect his role as being in charge of day-to-day operations. If I have any concerns or a difference of opinion, we have a weekly CEO/Founder executive meeting that I can address them in.
4. Don’t talk about business outside of business.
We have a family rule that when we are together for family time, the conversation of business needs to be checked at the door. We want to nurture our family relationships and make sure they are not just built on a business interaction.
5. Pay employees based on their role in the business.
Whether an employee is family or not, we pay them based on the role they play and the industry value of that role. They each have a chance to affect the bottom line of our financial success and be a beneficiary of bonuses.
6. Invest in resources that support better communication.
At a time when we were faced with some family issues that were challenging to keep separate from business, we hired a trained psychotherapist who came to our office to teach us communication skills. We had to talk about some sensitive topics that had a lot of potential to damage our long-term family relationships. Investing time and resources into more effective communication skills made all of the difference in helping us navigate a potentially damaging experience that could have taken years to heal.
7. State our values and strive to live by them.
Our company motto is “I Love My Life.” We believe that the company is meant to support us in a healthy work-life balance and if what we do at work interferes with that, we make changes. We are all committed to living true to our company values and we hold each other accountable for that.
8. Not only work together, we travel together.
Traveling gives us a chance to experience each other in a different setting, to take off our work hats and remove ourselves from the day-to-day work and family routine. We are also able to bring along our grandchildren, which strongly reminds us to focus on our family during our trip.
9. Learn lessons from old family patterns.
I grew up in a family business. I learned what not to do and what was healthy. Being the second generation to create and build a family business has helped me avoid numerous mistakes. My father was a very successful entrepreneur who had difficulty putting aside business to be a present father. My father’s negligence has provided me a great lesson that I fortunately did not have to re-create. I am mindful as a mother that my first priority is my family. Every week, I examine my schedule to see how much time I give to work vs family to make sure there is balance.
What’s the biggest key to working with family?
If you look at my list, you’ll see that everything on it is an intentional choice. Through my business, I teach people that they have incredible power to create the experience that they choose. We practice that together as a family. Whether you’re considering a family business or you’re already in one, your thoughtful choices will influence how supportive that experience turns out for you.
My family members and I enjoy each other’s company and I feel it’s a great privilege to work together with them. If you’re drawn to work with your sibling, parent, or child, try these tips.
You may find you love working with your family after all.
Carol Tuttle is the CEO of Live Your Truth, LLC as well as a teacher, speaker, gifted healer, best-selling author, and pioneer in the field of personal development. For over 25 years, she has supported millions worldwide with her life-changing books and online courses, including Energy Profiling. Her sixth book, , guides you through six transformative lessons to create a life you love. Learn more at and connect with her on Facebook .