One of the things that really amazes me is how often family business participants complain about how mistreated they feel when in fact they are simply being held to standards that are used by many well run non family companies.
We’re going to publish a regular blog series that examines these common family business complaints. The bottom line in so many cases is that business brings with it lots of criticisms and challenges regardless of family dynamics. We want to help business teams be more effective by understanding the real problems and not getting the issues confused and clouded by what are perceived as family problems. We’ll have plenty of time in other blogs to talk about the problems that are directly related to family history and dynamics!
I hope you’ll tune in often and read family business injustice vs. business best practices and let us know if it’s helpful.
Family business injustice vs. business best practice
Vol 1 – Learning to deal with criticism without taking it personally
In my work with families it’s common to hear next gens complaining about how they are either misunderstood or overly criticized about their work or their ideas. Built into the complaint either implied or directly is the notion that they are being overly criticized because they are family.
I had a similar experience during my 16 years in my family business. I felt at times like our President was overly critical of my work because I was his brother’s son.
When I got out of there and started working with leaders in corporate America I realized much of the stern criticism was normal pressure applied by CEO’s and Executives. Even though most people want to add the “story” that it’s family mistreatment it’s really just normal and needed pressure applied to business people.
What I’m talking about here is normal and professionally delivered criticism by your boss. This is not about any boss who is a raving jerk delivering criticism in an unprofessional manner. Again, if that’s happening in a family business it might just be because the boss has poor communication or emotional intelligence skills not because they are your family member.
In my case and most cases I encourage the person receiving the criticism to try to “take it on” and be honest with themselves about the critique and not try to discount it because of a family relationship. In order to become a highly effective business professional you should embrace criticism as an opening for learning and improvement. The most successful business professionals I know are very resilient to criticism and embrace feedback from their internal and external customers.
Next time a family member is criticizing your work or ideas, make a conscious effort to stand back and see the criticism from a coworker and not a family member. Don’t let family dynamics lead you to discount the critique.
Highly successful family business professionals appreciate being pushed to higher levels of performance and know strong feedback is an important part of that process.
Bottom line – critical performance feedback is a business best practice not a family business injustice. Please let me know if you agree or if your situation warrants a different conclusion.