-Tawnya Starr, Firespring
How to Work Effectively with Family
In this episode of Resilience Radio, we explore:
- How the EOS framework can simplify and expedite business growth
- How to work effectively with family and overcome conflicts
- How to get Visionaries and Integrators to stop butting heads
- How attending Burning Man helps Tawnya as an entrepreneur
- How to create alignment in your team
Managing Conflict in a Family Business
Kim: You work with your husband. I work with my husband too. What’s that like?
Tawnya: It is truly a joy, an absolute pleasure and a tremendous opportunity to work with an individual who I think is one of the most amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet in my lifetime. He is the true visionary of our company and he elevates me in so many ways that I never imagined prior to working together. At the same time, I am entrepreneurial, he is entrepreneurial, there can be conflict and challenges and we don’t always agree.
Kim: We have a lot of family owned businesses that are listening to this particular podcast. How do you deal with those conflicts? How do you deal with those times when you’re not on the same page necessarily? Is there a method for coming to an agreement? Do you need to come to an agreement? Does he have ultimate veto power? How does that work?
Tawnya: Those are all really great questions. I think that the most important component, Kim, especially for Jay (my husband) and myself is we have to be in alignment as to where we want to be. What is the end goal? Whether it is in hiring decisions, the growth of the business, who we’re serving or what our product offering is, if we’re not in alignment as to where we want to be and what our end objectives are – like as Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind” – there is absolutely no way that we can come into alignment on anything else. We are always able to do that. One of us may have to compromise, but we typically are fairly aligned there. So that’s the easy part.
How we achieve that end objective is where we sometimes run into conflict. Early on, we had to identify what our different strengths are. Jay focuses on the vision and on interaction with our operations. I focus on execution, management, accountability and problem solving. I’m process oriented. So with respect to one another’s strengths, when we are in conflict on direction, we have made an agreement to have a discussion that can be healthy (and sometimes contentious), and in the end, we’ll give consideration to the individual’s strengths.
Kim: So staying in your own lane helps a lot.
Tawnya: Yes. And sometimes, Kim, I feel that most of us who have been in family businesses know that there are times when we are not in our lanes, we cross the lane, we create issues and have conflict, and it can lead to an unhealthy relationship in the work environment and at home. We have had periods of time when we’ve gone through that and had to make some hard decisions about our roles and responsibilities. I have a hard and fast rule: we do not bring business home. Home is home. It is our sanctuary. If we don’t have that line in place, work will consume our lives.
Kim: You don’t bring work home. That’s your hard and fast rule. Is it his hard and fast rule too?
Tawnya: No. He would talk about business 24/7.
Kim: How do you cut him off?
Tawnya: I have a really great example of this. One of our key team members has recently decided to dedicate more time for her family and to leave our organization for one that she can work far fewer hours for. Two nights ago, as we were getting into bed, Jay asked me if I thought one of our team members would apply for that position and if that would be a good move. I said, “Jay, it is 10 o’clock. I am going to bed. We are not going to have this conversation right now. Let’s have it first thing in the morning.”
Kim: And he says, “OK”?
Tawnya: And he says, “OK.”