Career Calling

October 16, 2013

Getting the Business – Family Style

I have a client whom I will call Mary.  She has been a business manager for 15 years, working at a family-run business where she is not a family member.  After going on vacation a few weeks ago, she returned to work only to learn that she had been laid off and replaced by her assistant.  Mary had been hired by the business’s founder.  Now, his son runs the business, and his primary value is cost control, which lets him keep more money in “the family.”  15 years of loyalty mean nothing.

A few years ago, one of my friends worked as a manager for a home health service.  The owner of the business had three daughters.  My friend trained one daughter, then another, and then she trained the youngest daughter, who took over her job.  The business owner told my friend that she appreciated her work, but family comes first.  The irony is that the company went out of business three years later.

Not all family businesses are cruel or disloyal.  But, if you work for a small family business, it’s probably good to remember that – as my friend’s boss put it – “family comes first.”


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