We’ve had the privilege of working with many family businesses. As a valuable outsource we work very closely with the business owners and management team and from time to time we find disharmony is affecting the culture of the entire company.
Secrets are never hidden more deeply than they are in a family, and so family business dysfunction is often the most hidden issue. No one wants to openly discuss that the little sister is not making her sales quota and the rest of the department is compensating. No one wants to point out the Uncle Joe is notoriously late for client meetings and losing work because of it. They don’t want to point it out to the family, but they are grumbling about it, and worst of all, if they get so frustrated they actually use it as an excuse to the outside world, knowing that customers, suppliers, etc, will commiserate with their no-win situation.
If employees and family members are all singing a different tune, then vendors, partners, and customers will not hear a clear marketing message. Instead, they will hear noise, confusing noise. No matter how pretty your graphics, how stunning your video, person to person interaction will trump that image.
When you have a cohesive company culture, the staff chatter on the record and off the record works like a well oiled engine, supporting the brand image of the company.
It’s interesting how many conversations I have had with employees who have had to deal with a confusing family business situation. The hours that are lost as they attempt to figure out how to work a midst a family are ultimately reflected in the company bottom line, in vendor/consultant relationships, and in customer service.
Amazing marketing can’t hide your staff’s tone of voice on the phone. Popular social media pages where your staff and their network never chime in, can be a sign that they aren’t “clicking” with the positive image of your company. If they don’t love your company and aren’t inspired by your company, often the first place to look, is to how positive and inspiring is the family/staff interface in the hallways of your business.
Remember more than many other corporate cultures the “family business” culture has the ability to be exceptionally motivational or extremely toxic. It is important to establish early in the creation of your company which of these two cultures you want to model your family business after.