With travel reopening, extended family vacations are back. That includes families that work in the same business. The good news is families that work together in intergenerational businesses can have it all: successful organizations and harmonious relationships. With the right approach, it’s possible for relatives who spend the week negotiating with each other, to spend the weekends and holidays blissfully private jetting and vacationing together! Psychologist and Executive and Life Coach Gideon Schneider of Optimised Talent tells us how.
By Gideon Schneider
2. Is there something unique about families that work together?
All families have unique dynamics. They have their particular hierarchies and ways that they tend to communicate with each other. All families can have great moments together and times that feel more strained. How a family works through difficult times is what helps make the good times even better.
When you add the dynamic of working together into the mix, you add extra layers to those relationships that can impact how people feel. We all have emotional needs that we want to be met within our families.
It can be difficult to set these aside when at work where different hierarchies are often needed to keep businesses working well. It can be challenging for many people to make that mental mind shift from relating to someone as a family member to relating to them as a colleague or boss.
Also, the other layer of complication is that whilst most people go home at the end of the workday and stop seeing their colleagues until the next day, intergenerational business owners keep interacting with each other ‘after hours’ and this blurs the lines between work and family time even more.
Vacations can be tinder for a flare-up. My work as an executive coach often sees me helping families define these boundaries better so that they can thrive both at work and at home.
3. How can families that work together, travel together?
I think there are two main points here. The first is really understanding each family member’s needs, especially where there has been some frustration building up. That happens before getting on the private jet for a vacation.
I often work with my clients one-on-one and then together as families, to gently figure out what’s happening both in the family business and at home and then help them find new, more productive ways of living and working together. In the same way that a good business plan gets a company moving in the right direction, a good plan to improve relationships by accounting for all the various family member’s needs is a way to keep everybody happy. I often see that when these things are resolved, naturally there’s more enjoyment when family members travel together.
The next point is helping each other set firm boundaries between work and family time. Once you’re on the private jet heading to your family getaway, it’s time to stop talking shop and focus on each other’s out-of-work lives.
Making a conscious effort to be clear with those boundaries so that everyone feels valued, loved and cherished, gives everyone the break they need from the boardroom to focus on the vacation at hand.
Even when traveling together for work, respecting each other’s needs to have space and time away from work can make flight time much more enjoyable for all.
Think of that time in the air as an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company as a family, saving talk of the business for spaces set out just for that.
4. Families that fly together, stay together?
I recently coached all board members of a successful family-owned business. My initial goal was to help the company adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic that had seen their business having to quickly change direction.
We also began work on succession planning, but this sensitive topic made it apparent that in order for the organization to not only survive but thrive, some underlying family tensions that had seeped into the board room would also need to be resolved.
Together we worked on finding a shared goal of addressing those tensions and improving everybody’s experience both in and out of the office. We agreed to try using time in flight as an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company as a family, not as colleagues.
We helped this happen by making the experience of flying more relaxing by having fine dining experiences onboard and giving each other the space needed to feel totally refreshed on landing.
I’m happy to say that the tricky subject of succession planning was amicably resolved to everybody’s satisfaction, the business thrived, and that the relationships between family members dramatically improved.