One of my favorite things about Mamma Toledo’s The Pie Hole was that she hired her family. She joked a couple of times about her kids having kids, which meant she had more employees to hire in the future. I love this a lot, but you don’t see it very often. Sure, you see family members start businesses quite often, but you don’t really hear about it succeeding. Or, if it did succeed, the familial relationship is often damaged.
So, why does it work for her? Or why did it work for people like Gary Vee in his dad’s wine shop? I think the answer is a simple, but not easy, word: Honesty.
I mean think about it. How many family events did you just smile and nod rather than say what was really on your mind? I would guess a lot.
A business is a machine and if people are saying one thing and doing another, then the cogs in the wheel aren’t lined up and the business doesn’t go anywhere. Then insert the concern of no saying something that needs to be said because you don’t want to create family drama? That amplifies the problem. The only way to handle this is to have, as Gary Vee calls it, “radical candor.” (see his clip here; if you don’t know him, be advised that he swears…a lot). That means brutal, crazy, over the top honesty. You’d think that being straight forward and honest about everything would damage relationships, but I find it’s the opposite. Now, candor can be misconstrued as rudeness, but that’s because our culture is soft. In my experience, being straight forward usually earns more respect than anything else. People like to know where they stand. It frees them from the bondage of always wondering if they are doing it right, or if the boss likes it.
Open honesty is doubly important with a family business. The only way for there to not be family drama is for there to be nothing written between the lines. If something bad happens, people with a strong family tie can work through it. If a person feels lied to, or deceived, those break down any type of relationship.
I know this speaks to business, but I believe the principals still stand for personal relationships. We all suffer because of things we leave unsaid. A challenge that I’m setting for myself this next year, is to speak my mind more. My goal is to kill my fear, and one of the things that fills me with fear is speaking up. So, whether you have a business, or are a human, try to operate on honesty and I think you will be surprised in the positive outcome.