It seems the key word in “family-owned business” is family, and for good reason. Being part of a family and a part of the same business really ties those employees and owners who are in the family in virtually every possible way, in most or all aspects of their lives. Being a devoted employee or manager in a family-owned business when you are not related by blood or marriage can pose special challenges. There are questions that may pop into the heads of these employees, such as “Will I receive the credit for that last big client win?” or “Why was the owner’s son promoted to the job I’ve worked to get for 20 years?” or “Who do I need to marry for job security?”
Being cynical is different from being practical, however. A non-family employee can offer objectivity, a different set of skills and background, fresh insight, and loads of experience in the business world. It would behoove a family-owned business to attract and retain the best non-family employees possible, to avoid division among the employees and management, to foster open communication across all levels, and to earn the loyalty that can be just as valuable as that of a family member. This can be seen as the level of commitment of the non-family employee. I got started thinking about this topic when I ran across Meyer and Allen’s three component model of organizational commitment (J. P. Meyer & N. J. Allen, 1991). The model puts forth that there are three “mind sets” which characterize an employee’s commitment to the firm, as follows:
Do your non-family employees feel committed to your family-owned business? Which type(s) of commitment do they have? If you have any additional questions or would like further information, fill in the form below.