Family businesses in the Middle East are an integral part of the economy, particularly in Saudi Arabia. There are many Saudi family businesses—the most influential in the Middle East include the Olayan Group, the Abdul Latif Jameel Group, the Al Nahla Group and many more.
It’s common for successful business owners to instill a love of entrepreneurship in the heart of their children, and to inspire them to join the family business one day. If you, yourself, have this opportunity and want to join your family in business, it’s worth noting that working with them can come with both advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the main benefits and challenges that you may face when working with your family. We will also later discuss how to overcome these disadvantages, so they don’t impact your family dynamics at home.
Benefits of working with family:
- You work with people you trust and people you are comfortable with, which will increase your confidence in the workplace.
- Your common goals and professional interests are the same, unlike when you’re working for an unrelated employer.
- Working with family is more flexible and family members will understand if difficult circumstances arise, if you’re delayed or need to be absent for any reason.
- You’re aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your family members, although this can be a pro and a con!
Challenges of working with family:
- Feelings can interfere with work decisions and it’s difficult to separate your emotions. It may be tricky to make a difficult professional decision, particularly if it has a negative impact on a family member
- It’s difficult to separate your home life from your work life, and vice versa, meaning sometimes you never feel you have a break and that much-needed work-life balance.
- Workplace nepotism: People who are incompetent may be promoted because they are related to the people in charge. This can also cause problems to the wider business for other employers if this occurs.
- You might feel embarrassed to give orders or to be given tasks from a family member
How can you run a family business smoothly and successfully?
You have decided to begin or join a family business, but you might be hesitant about the journey that lies ahead. Don’t be! Below you’ll find the most important points to help build a successful company with your family, so you can work harder, and worry less.
Transparency, transparency, transparency
Transparency and credibility are among the most important principles which must be established between family members when you work together. To build a solid foundation of trust with your family, you must be clear and express your abilities and expectations honestly and transparently, to avoid any unnecessary scenarios that could stand in the way of working together successfully.
The art of communication
Clarify with your family how you would like your relationship at work to be. Some would like the relationship to be formal while others would rather keep it casual. Regardless, it’s important that internal communications remain professional, as all employees should follow the same structure and the same communication channels, regardless of your relationship.
Setting expectations and rules
Before you begin working with your family, clearly outline all the rules and expectations, such as the monthly salary, work requirements and promotion opportunities, and note that benefits will be determined according to the role, and not according to the family relationship.
Separate personal life and work life
One of the most important skills you have to develop when working with your family is emotional intelligence, and the ability to separate your work life and your home life. Avoid talking about work when you’re at home and don’t discuss home problems at work. If you have a really bad day at work, go somewhere where you can chill out and gather your thoughts before going home.
Working in a family business has its advantages and disadvantages, but on the whole, it’s a rare opportunity to grow the family business and to share a common professional goal with your family. Make a note of the tips shared above to ensure your family business journey is a successful one.