Developing a Code of Conduct for Business Family Members
Watch the Basiles, a third generation business family with employees in the fourth generation, who own and operate Catania Spagna in the USA, describe ways by which they have created a 'family discipline' at work in order to function harmoniously when focusing on the business together. Creating expectations and guidelines that apply to both family and non-family members can help make an equal and cohesive work environment, contributing to the success of the family business.
The biggest challenge in running a family business is the family, keeping everybody happy, keeping everybody in their proper positions. Conflict within the family, within the business, is always a very difficult thing to deal with. We have got a written set of Basile family rules that we have all signed that states how we should react and interact with everyone, employees, and within ourselves. And if you do not follow those rules, you are punished. And that is very important for us to have this type of mechanism within the facility because it can destroy a company quickly.
Something like that, we definitely had an advisor come in, work on creating those type of rules, and also communicating to everybody why they were necessary and what was to be expected.
You have got to realize that you have to answer to somebody. We were very good friends, we have been friends all our lives, but I mean, the same thing applies that, look, okay, when it comes to work, work is work. Do not take it home with you. If he should have to say, “No, I want this done that way, that is all there is to it,” that is the final say. I will have to accept that. I might give my opinion, I might not agree, but the bottom line is you have to answer to somebody anyway within the chain of command, so you know, it is not personal, it is business. You have got to run a business.
The hardest part, I think, of working in the family business, especially, you know, one of our nature, where there are twelve to fourteen family members actively working full time in the business is really to understand where that line is.
This is a family business. However, we have come to the realization that it cannot be looked at that way. Family is family, but business is business. And that is one of the things that we have always kind of talked about. So we try to address that with everybody that comes on board, say yes, it is a family business, but they have to adhere to the same rules as anybody within the company. You know, they have rules to follow, you might have quotas to make, whatever it might be. If you are not doing your job you are called to the table on it, whether you are a family member or not a family member.
You walk through that door in the morning and, you know, the personal relationships really got to stop right there. And when you walk in, you know, so and so, whoever it is, is the boss, this person is your peer, it does not matter if they are a cousin, an uncle, a nephew, a niece. It is all irrelevant because at the end of the day, the business is really the livelihood of the family, and all the ninety-five employees that we have working here today. So it is really to understand and respect those boundaries.
Whenever we make a decision, the company has got to survive. The company is here for the masses; it is not here for an individual. So the company has to survive, no matter what the situation is, because if it does not survive, it goes down with everybody.