When your name is on the company sign, you know you carry a certain importance. However, sometimes advancement in the family business can be slower, and less structured, than you might like. If your goal is to take over operations or ownership of your family’s company, you may need to take the lead in setting out the path for your career.

Put Professionalism First in the Family Business

New employees often struggle with professionalism. The workplace works differently than school or social settings. Often, young workers haven’t been given models of how to behave professionally in the office. This can be especially challenging when you grew up walking the halls of your family business.

However, if you are growing your role in the family business, you must adapt to the corporate or business environment. That means keeping things professional. It is your responsibility to:

  • Demonstrate commitment to the family business and its goals
  • React maturely and professionally to setbacks
  • Keep family conflict at home
  • Maintain privacy and separation between family confidences and company information
  • Strive for high achievement
  • Follow corporate policies and procedures
  • Respect management hierarchies
  • Represent the family’s values

That may cause younger employees anxiety. You don’t have to be perfect right away. However, putting professionalism first will show your relatives you are serious about your role in the family business, and help them trust you to do more in the future.  

Get Help with Leadership, Conflict Resolution, and Business Strategy

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Plan Your Career Development Path

Your parent may have one idea about your role in the family business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have another. There are often many ways to the top of the corporate structure. The larger the company, the more opportunities you will have to carve out a career development plan that matches your interests, skills, and goals. This could include:

  • Identifying tasks and positions that align with your abilities
  • Seeking out mentors in the company and your industry
  • Completing trainings or education to increase your skills
  • Taking a break from the family business to gain employment experience elsewhere
  • Talking early and openly about growing your role in the family business

Being proactive and transparent about your goals can help the older generation come around to your vision for the future of the company, and your role in it.

Understand that Career Advancement Takes Time, Even in a Family Business

Advancement can slow in many family businesses. Business owners may take their time deciding to retire. If you are committed to growing your role in the family business, you must understand that it will take time to get where you are going. Good transition planning often starts five years or more in advance.  You will need to be patient.

The best way to speed up your career advancement is to help the company grow. Your family business’s success will create new opportunities for new hires, and internal promotions. By demonstrating your ability to move the company forward, you will make it easier for your bosses, and relatives, to move you up into newly created management positions.

Request Objective Performance Feedback from Supervisors

Everyone has strengths and struggles at work. However, if you work for the family business, your managers and coworkers may not always be honest about where you are falling short. You may need to specifically request objective performance feedback and periodic reviews to know how you are really doing at your job.

Remember, constructive criticism and identification of weak areas are essential parts of successful career development. If your supervisor wants you to be a better employer, and if you want to grow your role in the family business, you both need to be honest about your performance, and potential for improvement.

Work with a Career Development Coach to Grow Your Role in the Family Business

One of the best things you can do to prepare for and grow your role in the family business is work with an independent career development coach. Often called a leadership or executive coach, this professional consultant can help you view your career path within the family business objectively, and make good choices about training, conflict resolution, and professional development. That way, you will become invaluable to your family and a cornerstone employee within the family business.

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience helping leaders grow their role within the family business through business succession planning and executive coachingContact us to meet with David to start planning your future within the family business today.