Your Mom! The individual who raised and nurtured you…guided you through the tumultuous process of becoming a beautiful successful adult. To work for her requires all the skills she’s taught you along the way, and then some, to come back to the nest, spread your entrepreneurial wings while keeping your own identity and join the family business.
So, how does one gracefully swing the delicate balance when your dearest Momma is also the Boss?
The first key is easy.
- Leave the Family Politics at the Dinner Table: Remember when the couple on “Mad About You” had a daughter, and named her Mabel, for Mothers Always Brings Everlasting Love? It may be true but every lady has issues with her Mother (its all part and parcel of growing and growing and growing up). However, these issues should never come out in the middle of business meeting; even short quips create unnecessary tension around the office. Any personal issues must be handled at another time. Tempted for one little quip – Just remember all that the boss lady has done for you, and what you were like as a teenager.
- Separate: As an employee your dedication is to the business, not the family. Each decision must be made to grow the company assets. Sometimes these decisions are difficult especially during slowing business cycles. However compromising good business for the good of the family will create more problems in the long-term than the smaller issues that may arise.
Then remember, your mother is no dumb bunny. She wouldn’t have hired you if she didn’t think you would be an asset and make strong contributions. So prove her right.
- Be Assertive: Yes, mother knows all…… but that does not mean that you do not have something to contribute. Make sure you assert your great ideas. Research your ideas to ensure a solid foundation. This is not only beneficial for “the boss”; it is beneficial for the company. Who doesn’t like ROI, and when you’re working for your parent, they get a triple bottom line kind of thrill.
- Be Innovative: You bring youth and vibrancy into a company…while people become successful in their jobs, many times their skills become stagnant. As the younger partner, it is your responsibility to lead the way…maintain innovation and change in relation to technology trends, and environmental changes within your industry.
- Be Supportive: In the business world everyone needs positive reinforcement. It may be awkward to think your parent would need a pat on the back for a job well done, but its probably true. As their colleague, it is very important to congratulate, support and praise, they need the reinforcement just as much as you do!
If it was all fun, they (she) wouldn’t pay you, so yes there will be times when it won’t be a mutual lovefest. There are keys to dealing with those situations also.
- Listen: It is easy to “tune out” Momma when the lectures begin “I’ve had years of practice”. Your parent/boss is the expert, they have years more experience and “know how” then you….disregarding their advice may not only create a stressful work environment, it may negatively effect the company. And remember all those times as a kid when you wished you’d followed her advice (like that boyfriend during college.
- Maintain Clear and Detailed Goals and Lines: Although you are involved in a family business- you are an independent individual…Momma raised you no other way!! Don’t forget this. Establish a clear and detailed plan of setting and reaching goals to set quantitative steps in your career. Just because this is the same person cares whether you get your car checked regularly for safety reasons doesn’t mean she gets to remind you about this in the office. That final draft of the RFP due tomorrow, yes; the car no.
- Take the Criticism: “Uhg….She nags you about getting your oil changed and now the TPS report. Geese, she’s everywhere.” You never have to get your oil changed “because she said so”……however the TPS reports must be completed. Remember, it’s now your bottom line too. The better your company does, the better your bonus/raise.
The best thing to do is to remember that this woman’s first instinct is to nurture and nature you. She wants you to succeed as much, if not more, than you do. So take a deep breath, and enjoy the experience that few women get to have – to spend time learning even more from our mothers, and be old enough to appreciate what she has to say, who she is and all she’s done.