The concept of yin and yang – or understanding of dualism – is a significant one in the Asian culture. Nowhere is the balancing of two equal, yet different, forces to create good boundaries more appropriate than in a discussion about work and life. It is particularly relevant for family-owned businesses where multiple members of the same family work together. The potential for broken boundaries and inter-marital, or inter-generational, conflict is practically limitless.

Balancing family and business is tricky to say the least.  However, it can be incredibly rewarding when done successfully.  A key factor for success is prioritizing boundaries within your family and the business you operate together.  Consider the following as you strive to create structure within your family business:

  • Create a presiding family business governance document.  Successful family businesses don’t just naturally happen. They take rules, plans, and contingencies like any other well-run business. It is particularly important for families to have expectations and values documented so that all members are aware.  From unexpected events to succession planning, documents like a family constitution can increase smooth transitions and decreased unnecessary conflict.
  • Recognize your different roles and acknowledge others’ as well.  A critical aspect to maintaining boundaries and healthy relationships in and out of the work atmosphere, is to recognize the roles that you fulfill in and out of work, as well as the roles your family members are responsible for. When we acknowledge our individual worth and the importance of each person within the work environment as well as the family environment, you will be more likely to appreciate each member of your family more.
  • Know when to take a break. It can be difficult to separate work life from family life, especially if you all work together and deal with challenges together. However, it’s important to create a separation. For example, there’s no need to discuss business matters when enjoying a meal together or special event. That doesn’t mean challenges and concerns can’t be discussed outside of working hours but be sure to prioritize business time at work and family time at home.
  • Foster, embrace, and practice open communication. No family business can successfully survive without clear, open communication. Without it people operate on assumptions, misunderstandings and ambiguity. When individuals value communication – even when topics are difficult – challenges are met and issues get solved.

Operating a successful family business is no small feat.  The lines of work and home life can get blurred and lead to unnecessary stress and dissatisfaction.  However, when we actively place effective boundaries around our relationships and expectations for both the business and at home, we will find that we will express the harmonious duality of yin and yang. To learn more, visit my website today!