In This Episode

Have you ever not liked going to work because of the people you work with?  Perhaps there is tension at work between you and a colleague where you just can’t get along on a regular basis.  Maybe you disagree on the direction of the company or it could simply be you don’t like how they do certain things.  What do you do when this person is related to you?  What do you do if this person you can’t work with any more is your brother?

One of the beauties of working with family is that you already have a relationship with that person outside of work.  That can be one of the challenges as well.  Sometimes things that make you a great fit outside of work can be problematic at work.  This is especially true in the case of siblings where there is a lot of history together which likely includes some hurt feelings.  Over the years there has likely been a certain pecking order that has been established.  Things like the oldest child dominating or the youngest child (i.e. the baby) being the favorite and always getting what they want.  These dynamics can change and/or be exposed in a different way when mom and dad are gone from the business and it’s just the siblings left to run things.

So if you find yourself in a situation like this and you’re wondering what to do, don’t worry you’re not alone.  We’ve seen all kinds of sibling situations over the years.  One of the most important things to keep in mind with your siblings is that no matter what happens in the business you will always be siblings.  You don’t have the luxury of just walking away from them and never speaking with them again like you would with a colleague who isn’t family.  This fact is key when figuring out how to let your sibling know that you can’t work with them any more.

So what’s likely to happen?  As with any relationship that isn’t going well, things are going to have to change or someone is going to have to leave.  One of the questions we like to ask when things get emotional like this is “What’s best for the organization?”  Not what’s best for Johnny or Betty, but what’s best for the organization.  When framed this way, the potential solutions often appear pretty quickly.  Unfortunately it usually means that someone will be leaving the organization to explore new opportunities.

One of the best ways to handle a situation like this is for the siblings to sit down and agree how they are going to change things to make things work better OR they agree they can’t make enough changes to make things work better and thus someone has to leave.  Now this might take the form of a very direct conversation or it might be a little more subtle or passive aggressive.  In the case where it’s more subtle it might sound a little something like, “I can’t take this place any more, perhaps I should just quit and find something else to do.”  Or the person might even threaten to quit.  Or just refuse to engage with their sibling and shun them at work as well as at home.

During the show today we shared several examples and situations we’ve experienced over the years.  It’s one of those dirty secrets of running a small family business that the siblings shouldn’t have to work together if it doesn’t make sense for the organization.