How to Accurately Assess Your Management Style in a Family Firm

Being the owner-manager of a family firm requires juggling many roles not just with family members but with employees as well. The way marital and family obligations are handled affects management style with employees and vice versa.

 

For example, in family firms where spouses work together, management style must be assessed in three arenas: 1) marital, 2) parenting, and 3) business management. Furthermore, the integration of these three styles must be assessed.

What is your marital style? Are you both leaders? Is one the leader and the other the support person? Does the style change depending on context? Are you a team? Or are you both separate and dedicated to your own spheres? Does your marital style differ greatly from your parenting style or your management style? Whatever your marital style – know it. Don’t assume that it is irrelevant in your family firm. If it is incompatible with the business, then you will have many problems. Employees sense the discrepancies. They know when there has been a marital fight.

What kind of a parent are you? If a couple has children, whether they work in the business or not, be aware of parenting style too. Parenting style is affected by business-management style and vice versa. Those lessons are translated to the work place. Are you an authoritarian parent? Are you permissive? Are you authoritative? Parenting style is obviously related to marital style. If two marital partners do not think alike about parenting, there will be a disorganized, and possibly, very depressed family. Equally so, it is important that parent/owners determine if they are treating employees the way they treat their children.

What about your management style? Management styles can be categorized as one of the four styles: 1) telling, 2) selling, 3) participative, 4) delegating. Which are you? Are you apt to tell employees what to do? Or do you build a good case for what they should do? Or do you include employees or other managers in the process of developing new business? Finally, are you inclined to run the show yourself but delegate tasks to team members?

After honestly assessing these three arenas, keep these four important points in mind:

1. Accept who you are. Whatever your style, it is probably the most comfortable way for you to be. This doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. But it’s best to start with who you are and then to build marital, parental, and management styles around your personality.

2. Accept your spouse’s style, too. She or he has developed a certain personality that is unlikely to change. Rather, you two are looking for ways for both of you to realize your full potential.

3. When considering a parenting style, not only do your consider your partner’s style, but you must also include the personalities and needs of your children. Most parents are astounded at how wildly different each one of their children are.

4. Remember that your management style at work is more related to your marital and parenting styles than you realize. It is in the family that we first learn to relate to others. How you treat employees and how you want them to treat you is dependent upon your understanding and utilization of these early lessons.

Understanding your unique management style in the workplace and how you have integrated past and present family lessons into a family business will help you to be flexible and to adapt to whatever may come. I work with family businesses in the Portland/Vancouver area to help them balance family issues with business issues – click here for more about my work with Entrepreneurial Couples.

My book Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home is also available for purchase.

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