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Having Trouble Managing In My Family Business

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Arminder Gill

User

( 6 months ago )

I am the son of a one of the owners of a family run business. I'd been doing non-executive, technical jobs for about 2 years and have just recently taken on a role in managing and developing the business. I have, however, found that my instructions are often not followed by my colleagues because they are unlike the 'way things have been done' for about a half decade now. There is a very low chance of me being able to fire anyone due to labour laws in my state highly favouring workers over business owners.

I understand my position is a little awkward within the firm (have to give instructions; cannot fire). What are the best steps I can take to get my colleagues to do as they are instructed without making myself the proverbial 'boss's son barking orders'?

Thank you in advance.

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Nageshwer Reddy

User

( 6 months ago )

 

When someone new takes the helm, especially when that person is related to the owner, there will be resistance to change. The problem with someone who either rises up from the ranks or takes over for a relative is that while you have the title, you do not have legitimacy in the eyes of the workers.

Unfortunately, you've got the double-whammy: You are a relative who was promoted. You're not the boss until and unless you establish legitimacy in the eyes of the employees.

There are several ways to do this.

  1. Fire people. This is the easiest way for you to establish that you are the boss. Fire a few people and the rest will get the message. You can do it if you document insubordination. The law doesn't favor employees when you've got a ream of paper to back you. The downside is that you will have to replace them. You will also damage productivity in the remaining people. They will acknowledge your power, but they will not be as eager to help in the future. Do this and expect to be "booked" for a while. People will come in and do their job and nothing more.
  2. Lead by example. This will involve you getting your hands dirty and will take some time, but will pay big dividends. You essentially need to be a salesman. "Because I said so" is not a sufficient reason for people to follow you, and they won't be satisfied by it. It's not enough that you're the boss if you cannot demonstrate to your people that you know what you are doing. Pick up a book on sales or Dale Carnagie's "How to win friends and influence people". A good boss can give orders where the people wind up thinking that they came up with the idea themselves. Engage them, ask for their input and ask them why they think the old ways are better than your ideas. This way you will see thing from their perspective while getting them to see things from your perspective.
  3. Be a nag. Be persistent in your approach, reject any work that isn't done the new way. After they have to redo their work a few times, they will get the message. It's one way to push people out the door who refuse to change.
  4. Make life miserable for those who resist. It's management's way of "booking" employees. Delay responses to vacation and time off requests. Deny days off when you know it's important to them, but not something that will bite you. Require a doctor's note for every absence.

I recommend option 2. It's harder for you right now, but it's the best for both you and the company.

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