By Dee and Emily Karawadra
In our last article, we wrote about the father/daughter dynamic at work. We featured Steve Duniec, whose daughters are now working in his company with him. To continue with that theme, we will discuss in this article some of the pros and cons of working together.
Dee and I have worked together for more than 13 years. It took a lot of battles and compromising to figure out our respective places at work and at home. When we decided to bring our oldest daughter, Morgan, into the family business of merchant services three years ago, it disrupted the balance that Emily and I had figured out. This was a huge adjustment for both of us.
When you bring family members into your business mix, it can be challenging. But the rewards outweigh the challenges. Sorting out how to bring in a new family member with the least amount of disruption, so we can grow the business together to the benefit of everyone depending on us has helped with our personal growth and development.
We have learned to balance our work interactions and our personal interactions. We are both fortunate to have a great relationship with Morgan. We have always been a "say what's on your mind" family, keeping communication a priority. We quickly realized that when working together, open communication would continue to be key to our success ‒ and to maintaining peace at home and at the office.
In today's hyper-connected world, there is no such thing as leaving work behind at the office. It is not easy to keep a healthy balance by making sure time spent outside of work isn't overtaken by work, but doing so is essential. This is our biggest challenge.
Although Morgan, now an adult, does not live with us, we still spend a lot of time outside of the office together for dinners, family events and vacations. Despite knowing how critical it is to refrain from focusing on work at these family occasions, we find ourselves discussing work all the time outside of the office. This isn't fair to the other family members who have to constantly be subjected to shop talk. When we forget this, our other kids will say, "No more business talk."
Also, Morgan has a Type A personality, she is constantly checking in and following up on her duties at the office, so we all have to be especially mindful.
An upside to having someone in your family who truly cares for the success of your business is they work three times as hard as the employee that works Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Family members who are personally invested in the success of the company will work nights and weekends keeping everything in line. This is the case with Morgan. I have to remind her to take time for herself when it's 11 p.m., and I see she's returning emails. I will text her to go to bed!
It's important to find ways to carve out space for yourself so you can maintain your independence from the office. Ultimately, the balance of family life and business life is crucial to the outcome of your business goals and your personal relationships.
The stigma of nepotism in the workplace is real. As management, it's important to not play favorites with your relatives. The minute you bring a family member into the fold, other employees are going to be on high alert for special treatment. It is essential to base tasks and advancements according to the talent of your team members – not genetics
However, while endeavoring to avoid favoritism, don't go too far in the other direction. We have observed this is Dee's weak point. He tends to expect more from Morgan because she is our daughter, and he has high expectations of her. He looks to her to be a good example to the other team members. She, in turn, knows this and goes above and beyond to please him. Naturally, when a family member feels pressured to over-perform, this can strain your personal and work relationships. This, too, needs balance.
Continually striving to maintain balance seems to be the right answer for us. Work/life balance is crucial for business growth. Family members are great to help with this, as they have pride in the company and make servicing customers a top priority. They help watch the bottom line and try hard to build a good reputation for the business.
There's no denying that working with family members can be tough, but it also comes with amazing perks. We love that we get to see our oldest child every day of the week. We have a unique and deeper bond that comes from building a business together. For us to watch Morgan develop professionally and see that her education is paying off is very rewarding. But the biggest perk of all is that we are creating a legacy within our family tree.
Dee Karawadra is president and CEO of Impact PaySystem, and Emily Karawadra is the company's chief financial officer. Since 2001, Impact PaySystem has been a leading provider of payment processing technologies and services to merchants throughout the United States. Through alliances with payments industry leaders such as Chase Paymentech, First Data, Buypass, Sage and more, Impact PaySystem offers tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each merchant. Dee and Emily will welcome your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.
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