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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 3
Issue 7

It’s All in the Family

This is not a revisit of the old Archie Bunker show from the 1970s. However, it is a look at how business intersects with family life.

Years ago it was considered politically incorrect to keep pictures of your spouse or children on your desk. The photos, it was said, implied that your family was possibly more important to you than your work. Employees with family photos on their desks might be considered not as committed to the company as others. In most organizations that thinking is “old school.” We know now that family has a significant impact on what we do and decisions we make. Acknowledge it for your employees and yourself. If you coordinate your own family issues with your business, chances are you will run a more family-friendly and effective company.

Since I specialize in working with family businesses, I know how critical family relationships are in business. Family members who work together have specific issues to deal with and additional complexities. You may think that since you don’t work in a family business, family plays no role in your work life. Well, I disagree; family does play a role in your business.

As business owners, workplace decisions are often influenced by family obligations. For example, meetings are not typically scheduled during children’s sporting events. Early evening appointments are rescheduled when they fall on parent nights at school or during an award ceremony honoring a family member. Executives have parents who need them present at appointments and during crises. Most people would not think of relocating their business without talking it over with their families. Many couples have dual careers so that company travel and major moves must be coordinated.

Here are five tips I provide to my clients to help them integrate family and business needs:

  • Delegate more of your work. You never need to do as much as you think you do. If your business has clear policies and procedures, well-defined roles and responsibilities and effective processes to run it, you will have the freedom you need to attend to personal matters.
  • Include your family in your work. Often business owners want to leave their work-related issues at the office but they can’t hide mood changes that their families usually don’t understand. Non-communication can be harmful to any relationship. Ask your significant other for input. Don’t cut your partner out of where you spend so much of your day. That’s not to say share every detail. Summarize.
  • Take time off. No heroes need apply. Working non-stop is nothing to be proud of. You need to refresh yourself and reconnect with loved ones. Vacation does not mean bringing laptops, PDAs and cell phones so you connect with the office every day. Take a mental holiday as well as a physical one.
  • Be clear about what is important. Sure, you could earn more income if you stayed in the office longer hours. But what meaning will the extra money have if it causes you to miss significant milestones in your loved ones lives? You cannot buy back time and memories.
  • Work more efficiently. We all get too caught up in busyness. Say no to non-essential activities. The more productive we are, the more time we have for relationships. If you build a healthy life outside work, the time you are away will reenergize you.
Don’t be fooled, your family life affects your work life. Create a business that will allow you to have a fulfilling personal life as well as a successful business. With planning and effort, you can have them both. And, your employees will benefit from your acknowledgment that everyone has family issues to deal with, sometimes during working hours. Keep it all in the family.

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