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Edition 13 – Patch Preservation

It’s time for some controversy!

I’ve observed an alarming trend in Family Businesses over the past 2 or 3 years.

It’s an issue that, on the face of it, no one considers is an issue.

The issue runs counter to the thoughts that a lot of Family Business owners have about employing staff. Indeed, even long for.

The best way to cover the issue is to ask a series of questions.

  1. Are your long standing employees adding value to your Family Business?
  2. Are they bringing new ideas to the table?
  3. Are they evolving their role and taking the initiative to find a better way?
  4. Are they continuing to support you in your endeavours to build a better widget or provide a better service? Or;
  5. Are they preserving their patch? Doing what they’ve always done. Standing in the way of any changes that you’re looking to introduce into your business?

Do you find yourself trying to fit their lives into your Family Business to the point where you’re covering for them, not the other way around?

My experience is that most Family Business owners will do almost anything for their good staff. Let them leave early. Extended annual leave. Pay increases year on year. More than anything, treat their employees as a member of their own family.

It is also my experience that once employees have a tenure of 5 years or more, things start to happen. Not necessarily good things either.

Here’s some examples of what we’ve observed over the years with long term employees amongst the family businesses that we know:

  1. They start dictating the days and hours they’d like to work to suit them — not fit with your family business.
  2. Any change in technology is resisted.
  3. They refuse to adapt to new systems and processes.
  4. Their attitude towards new employees is indifferent at best and passive aggressive at worst.
  5. They are more critical of the business than they are positive.
  6. They fail to deliver on long term projects, irrespective of their importance.
  7. They stop making positive contributions to the business.
  8. They have a general disinterest towards the business.
  9. They start telling the owner of the Family Business what has to be done.

Most employers are happy to have employees stay around for extended periods of time. We’re forever being told that long term employees are one of the keys to success in business. It’s indoctrinated into business owners Australia wide that the cost of hiring and training new employees far outweighs the cost of investing in our existing employees.

So, why is it that in the past year or so, it has been our observation from working with many Family Businesses that the employees that are contributing the least, creating the most amount of grief, or, unfortunately for some, both, are, generally, those whose employment regime extends beyond 5 years?

The family businesses may vary. The industries may vary. The personalities of the owners may vary. However, the trend is there amongst a wide cross section of family businesses.

So, do you have employees in your family business that are into Patch Preservation?

This Week’s Tip

Ask your employees why they work for you? Why do they turn up every day?

If the reasons are more to do with them than your Family Business, that might be understandable. But it’s also an indicator of how passionate they are about your Family Business…and whether they are the right people for it.