How I Found My Feet and Grew When I Joined a Family Business
27th June 2016
One of the first things I noticed when I joined the team at Charles Clinkard was the incredibly welcoming and nurturing atmosphere that is part and parcel of working for a family firm. As is the case with many family businesses, they operate with a people-focused culture that makes you feel cared for as soon as you step through the door on your first day. This made it incredibly easy to settle in and begin to enjoy my new role. The company’s supportive attitude towards their employees allows for great flexibility in the job, as well as a nice balance of give and take in your work life.
There have been quite a few occasions where I have heard colleagues commenting on how the approach that the company has adopted has made them feel valued and not just a small cog in the machine. I think this feeling — that you are a vital part of the process — is probably more common to family businesses, and it certainly makes coming in to work much more satisfying.
Although Charles Clinkard is not really a small company, compared to larger non-family firms I have worked in, I find it is a lot easier to get recognition for good work. This, in turn, improves visibility to gain extra responsibilities and promotion within the company. The values-driven nature of the business means that they are willing to look internally for promotions before looking to hire from outside.
On the other hand, one of the challenges of working in a family firm can be found in the fact that at times there can be limited room to move upwards. This isn’t because people are being overlooked, but because there is a higher level of job commitment, meaning that there isn’t the higher turnover of staff you may find at a large firm. With fewer people leaving, promotions can be directly linked to the company doing well and expanding, which a smaller family business cannot realistically be doing all of the time.
One of the ways I feel I have been able to grow in my time at Charles Clinkard is through the increased autonomy I have gained in the job role. As I have improved my skills and gained my colleague’s confidence, I have been entrusted with more responsibilities which have allowed me to maximise my strengths and allowed me to grow.
The more that you commit to a family firm, the more you will get in return. If you can reach the point where you want the business to succeed as much as the owners, you will soon find you have a passion for what you do and you will experience a high level of job satisfaction.
Even if there isn’t a continuous route up the career ladder in sight, being able to develop in my role has given me a real sense of progression. If someone who was only interested in getting a new job title every six months asked me about working in a family firm, I would probably advise them to try their luck in a non-family company. But for someone who loves working in a nurturing environment where values, commitment and long-termism are key, family business offers a great development journey.
If you would like to explore in more depth the issue of managing people capital in family business, you can access the IFB Research Foundation report "Family Business People Capital" here.