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"We Expect To Be Treated Like Other Employees..."

Dear Advisor:

In our family business, family-member employees, expect to be treated like any other employee. I am accountable for getting my work done on time and to specs, just like everyone else.

I recently got a new computer system as part of a move to a new position. Unfortunately, for over three weeks, I wasn't supplied a printer. I tried everything to get what I needed and my work was piling up. Other employees who depended on me were also delayed. Finally, I went directly to the head of our Information Technology Group (ITG) and explained my problem.

I was shocked when he told me that he was responsible for all the hardware, software and data in our family's large company, and he could not spend his time doing errands for the boss's son in a low-level position, especially since I've insisted on a Mac when company standard is IBM (I'm a graphic artist).

My question is: How do I handle this outburst? Do I tell my Dad?


It sounds to us like you are pretty new in your family business and that you have given yourself the opportunity to learn some lessons the hard way. Your ITG chief doesn't sound like he'd win any awards for tact, but he's letting you know that you violated the first rule you stated in your question. Lower level employees obviously would not have gone to the top with this problem. Only a family member would have felt sufficiently empowered to do that. Your ITG chief, however, followed the rule and treated you like he would have treated anyone else, welcoming you to what we're sure he considers "the real world."

Family members who are new employees often have problems adjusting in the family business and often run into surprisingly uncomfortable situations. Doing what you think is right (going to the top) for the right reasons (needing to get your work done) can produce outcomes that seem very wrong. We hope you soon realize that trusting your instincts in such situations can be counterproductive until you've had a chance to learn more.

Perhaps you have some siblings or cousins who've more experience in the family business. Rather than going to the boss with this one, go to them first. Share your experience and ask for their insights on what happened and why. Listen carefully to their answers without trying to defend your own feelings. Remember, right now you should emphasize your own learning---"fixing things" that don't seem to be working right.

As to going to your father, what would any other employee do?

--The Advisor




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