I am glad that you have decided to blog about the insides of a family owned business Chuck, especially since this is all our family has ever really known. Your first post has been about open communication and I agree that is so important.
First there is the internal communication – how all of the family members participating in the business communicate with each other. In our case, you and Charlie have worked very hard in the last few years to understand each other – I applaud you both for that. It is one of the company strengths. From that understanding you have been able to trust each other even when you can’t communicate, as was the case the other night.
You are also both now learning how to see beyond the Dad and Son expectations, recognizing your separate and unique individuality. I think that is where your current conflict is coming from. You expect him to exactly mirror your ideals, goals, expectations and work ethic and are let down when he doesn’t. He expects you to be the one that makes the hard choices because that is how it has always been. He is afraid to make mistakes and may be more tentative than either of you expected.
Good news is that you both keep coming back to the table to work through it all.
The up and the downside is the shorthand communication style that develops between family members within a business. The upside is that our shared history and close contact allow us to “cut to the chase”, abbreviate, skip steps. The downside is that we can not use this style with those outside the “family”.
This external communication will involve employees, sub or independent contractors, vendors and ultimately customers. Can’t shortcut this important communication because in many cases there is no shared history, no understanding and no trust established. And even though our blogs, marketing materials, sales approach, contracts, jobsite communications and follow through will communicate one thing, our actions will communicate another. They both should convey that we are a company that can be trusted to get it all right, as often as is humanly possible.
So, as we go forward, I would suggest that we try the following: consciously identify those types of communication that we shortcut. Informally, this will help us learn how to avoid “short cutting” our communications with employees, subs, vendors and clients. Formally, this could become the skeleton for our company policies and procedures manual.
Chuck, Charlie and our valued readers, make it a great day despite the snowy weather!