Date posted: November 27, 2015


Jayne Griffiths
My HR Adviser, Perth

How long have you been working with family businesses?

At least 7 years.  One of my first experiences was with a husband and wife team who could go from talking rationally about the business, to screaming and yelling at each about their shortcomings.  Their business was bio-chemistry and it certainly was a toxic environment in all senses! Since then I have worked with many different family businesses, including as a Forum Facilitator which has been a wonderful privilege.

What’s one of the most common mistakes you see in family businesses?
I’m not sure I would describe it as a mistake….but the reality of family business is that the family dynamic does influence all aspects of the business.  Often I hear people say that they need to raise an issue with a co-worker, but they feel disempowered due to the family relationship, whether it be a dominant father, or wayward younger sister.  But family dynamics can also work to the benefit of the business, in one family business the daughter used her travel time with her dad to broach some subjects in a casual and non-confrontational way, which worked well for them.

Often family businesses are guilty of taking for granted and even taking advantage of family members.  As an HR adviser, I would always recommend that good Human Resources processes are used within a business, and they are applied equally to family members as the rest of the staff.  It is especially important to have robust recruitment and selection processes so that everyone understands that the family member is there because of their merits. It’s also essential to have clear performance expectations and monitoring, and fair pay and reward systems.  Under rewarding or over rewarding a family member will soon be seen as unfair by the rest of the staff.

What is your “uh ha” moment with your clients? When they realise…
That emotions are an integral part of how we operate and not something to be ignored or squashed.  I’m not suggesting that people don’t manage their emotions, but there does need to be an understanding that great employees and family members show up with their HEARTS and their minds!