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Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

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Archive - Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Power Struggles and Employees

Friday, December 07, 2001


ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE:

  • How couples can prevent power struggles
  • Communicating effectively with your staff

HOW COUPLES CAN PREVENT POWER STRUGGLES

Couples who work together need to develop a structure for communicating and decision-making that works for them. If you have a consensus model at home, it is difficult to implement a hierarchical model at work. If a husband and wife are used to making decisions together for the family, this is likely to be the best style at work as well. It is confusing and leads to power struggles when a wife is an equal partner at home, but must answer to her boss/husband at work.

In order to implement a successful plan for decision-making and prevent power struggles, a husband and wife need to attend to their personal relationship first. Relationships based on fear don’t work. There must be respect, love and support to maintain a healthy relationship. There must be room for individual differences. There must be an honest assessment of each other’s strengths so that duties at work can be assigned to produce the most efficient and successful outcome.

Too often copreneurs rely on traditional gender roles to define their duties at work and at home. While this may work for some couples, it can produce power struggles for other couples. If you are not a traditional couple at home, what makes you that that style is appropriate for work? Or perhaps the traditional model worked for you when you were younger and raising your children, but now the kids are grown, you need a more egalitarian style. As you establish your decision-making structure, consider your optimal marital style, keeping in mind your current values about family, marriage and work.

For more on this subject check out my latest “Families In Business” column: http://www.kmarshack.com/meet/columns/200111a.html.

COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR STAFF

How can you as a business owner overcome communication barriers and develop communication effectiveness? The best way is to understand the following steps in the communication process.

ATTENTION--The first step in the process of communication is attention. Listeners need to stop what they are doing and direct their attention to the speaker. Listeners are often preoccupied with many things they have to do, and if the speaker is not very interesting, their mind will begin to wander. The other thoughts listeners have constitute what is called message competition. In order to get a listener's attention, you as a speaker have to overcome this competition.

UNDERSTANDING--Even when individuals pay attention, they may not understand. How can understanding be achieved? Many owners try to gage whether they’re being understood by asking, "Do you understand what I have just said?" But this is the wrong question to ask because it puts pressure on the person to say yes. Instead ask, "What have I just told you?" In this way, the listener is forced to reformulate the message. If a lack of understanding does occur, you should be able to pick it up at this point.

ACCEPTANCE--Some people understand the message but are not willing to go along with it because they lack acceptance. You can often tell if someone is going to follow a message just by the way they respond. So remain sensitive to feedback the employee gives.

ACTION--The last step in the communication process is action. The person should follow through and do what is expected of him or her. Sometimes people try hard to do what is expected, but because of unforeseen difficulties, they are unable to do so. At other times, they need further assistance from you as their boss. In either event, remember that the communication process does not end until the message is carried out as expected. The effective owner realizes that telling people to do something and then sending them off to do it doesn’t end the communication process. A completed feedback cycle is necessary, in which the action is checked and it is determined that tasks were done as required.

These suggestions are from "Effective Small Business Management," Hodgetts, Richard, and Kuratko, Donald, Harcourt, Inc., 2001, page 299.

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. For more information on how entrepreneurial couples can make it work at work and at home go to my web site www.entrepreneurialcouples.com. You’ll find exercises, a library of family business articles, on-line consultation and much more. To contact my office call (360) 256-0448 or (503) 222-6678 or email info@kmarshack.com.