So you’ve decided to enter the family business. Congrats! Now it’s time to put in the work. And there’s a lot of it to be done. Here are a few tips:
First: Forget the corner office
You don’t, or shouldn’t, get to show up and have a corner office. If that option is given to you, do not take it. No matter the circumstances you do not want it to look like you moon walked into the executive wing. You’ll soon realize that perception is reality. If you show up late, the employees will think you’re lazy and entitled. If you get that corner office, you’re going to have a heck of a time earning respect and losing the nepotism tag. Request to sit in the “bullpen”, in the cubicles or in the middle of the office. People should always be able to see you and over your shoulder. They need to know you’re all in. Be in the middle of the action and do the work. I cannot stress this point enough: you need to work harder than any of the other employees in the company.
I didn’t have the option of going into my own office right away and I’m better for it. Honestly now that I have my own office now, there are times I feel like I’m missing out on the action! I have to be more intentional about consistently interacting with our employees, especially the ones I don’t work with daily.
Second: More hours = more respect
This one will drive millennials crazy, but it’s true. When you walk into the family business for the first time as a full time employee, you’re going to have a target on your back. The best way to get that target off your back is to out work everyone. I know I know “work smarter not harder” but you know what, you can work smarter and harder at the exact same time. I know…mind blowing stuff here. If the office hours are from 8-5 then yours should be 7-5:30. You have to get off on the right foot with your long term employees. They have a long memory and very short leash. It’ll take more than a fair amount of time for them to forgive perceived laziness and it’s on you to prove otherwise.
Our office hours are from 8-5, but our shop is open from 7-4:30. The first couple years I worked here I tried to work from 6:30 – 5 every day. I was paid hourly, so I loved the overtime. Even today I work through lunch and try to get here before the team starts in the shop. Again – perception is reality. You have to earn it.
Third: Start small
We all have these grandiose plans and ideas as to where our company can grow and what it can become. Put those ideas and plans on the back burner for now. Do not show up and start trying to change things. The best plan of action is to start doing the grunt work that no one wants to do. Thrive and do that grunt work to absolute perfection. Earn those stripes. The more of this you do, the more work you put in on those projects no one wants to touch, the more you show your commitment to the company. People are watching you carefully. If they see you rock a project that Janet in Accounting complained about doing for months, you’ll impress the team…everyone except Janet.
These are just a few tips to get you off on the right foot. First impressions set the tone on how well you will work together with your employees. It’s important and it’s well worth the effort.