Jennifer is a self proclaimed country girl born and raised in Northern California. After joining social media, Jenny met a farmer from North Dakota. She followed her heart all the way to the rural prairies of ND where she is now married to that farmer. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny can be found with a camera in hand capturing the world around her, loves the challenges of bringing culture to the North Dakota prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: jldphotographblog.com.
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I worked my entire life alongside my dad, mom, and brother. Working with your family is hard. I can remember times when we ended up in all out family fights over things that happened at work. We spent entire evenings over the dinner table hashing out details about work. I can’t say that I have been the best employee when it comes to having my dad as my boss, but I have learned a few things along the way. Here are six tips for making working with your family a little bit easier.
1. Keep Home at Home and Work at Work
Plain and simple. Don’t bring family drama into the “workplace” and don’t bring work drama into the “home”. Leave the family problems and issues at home and the work issues at home. Leave the Mom, Dad, or Children cards at home. Discuss business issues when you are working and make time for family issues if necessary. An easy way to define these conversations is maybe pre-empting the conversation with “I’d like to have a business discussion” or “I need to talk with you about something regarding our business”. This also is a great way to give each other feedback about work and realize that when a member of your family is giving your feedback or maybe even a critique, he/she is in no way attacking you personally. But instead they are trying to make you a better businessperson because of it.
2. Give Praise.
In all parts of our life, taking criticism is tough, but taking it from the ones you love the most is the hardest. And it is okay to give criticism because afterall, it makes us all better. But if you are the one giving all the criticisms all the time, check yourself. Be sure that you are both praising as well as giving criticisms. You’d be surprised how a simple “hey, good job today” makes a world of difference.
3. Recognize Seasons of Hard Work
It’s understandable that sometimes agriculture seems like a never ending busy season, but carve out some time to designate a “slow season” or a time of the year when your family is allowed some lee-way. Maybe it’s to take a vacation or maybe it’s to just take a few days off. Defining when those seasons are and when those seasons aren’t will save you lots of heartache when one of member of the family suddenly wants to take off and you have hard feelings because you are back at home working your butt off. It is important to realize that both hard work and making time to live and enjoy family are important. Draw the line wherever that is for you and your family. Write it down if you need to.
4. Understanding One Another’s Languages
Sometimes it may seem like working with your family, you are all speaking a different language. Maybe your brother isn’t much of a talker when he is “in the zone” working while your dad needs to constantly “talk it out”. Understanding how the members of your family work will create less tension and potential arguments when you are working in high stress situations. Feel free to sit down and talk over the Do’s and Don’ts for each family member. Try to make note of these things and work towards achieving them. Knowing what makes your family members tick and what makes for an enjoyable work environment can only benefit each and every person involved.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.
Your family members aren’t mind readers. If there is something that is bothering you, make a decision to either air it out or let it go. Don’t harbor negative feelings. Make a decision on whether or not it’s worth fighting the battle otherwise get rid of it. I feel like sometimes working with your family, you are MORE likely to hold a long term grudge or resentment that could possible surface years down the line. Don’t let this happen. Before you take the issue to your family, think about the best way to address it. Pick a time AFTER or BEFORE work, try not to attack, but communicate it in the best way you can.
6. Be Patient.
A little bit of patience goes a long ways. Having worked with my family all my life, I’d say that I was a little more likely to fly off the handle with one of my family members versus a coworker. We are close with our family, we feel more comfortable with our family, but that doesn’t make it okay to lose our cool with our family. If it happens, apologize. If you are feeling like you are hitting your breaking point, take a deep breath, walk away. And come back when you are feeling a little more patient.
If there is one thing I’ve noticed out of all the years of working with my family, it is that we are harder on our family members than we are our hired help. We expect more out of our family and we also tend to be less appreciative of our family. Hired employees may come and go, but we will always have our family. Working with family absolutely has its negatives, but the positives are something few people out there can boast. . I am so fortunate to have been able to work alongside my parents and brother in our family owned and operated business. And now that I am married, I am also involved in a family owned and operated business on the farm. Embrace it and take the necessary steps to make your family working environment the best it can be.