Family Business is Risky Business

Ever since I was a freshman in college, I have been working for the engineering company that my step-dad owns. And while he has never been my direct supervisor, he monitored (in a hands-off way) what I did and how people acted towards me. He explicitly told my supervisors that if I wasn’t doing my job up to their standards, they would need to act accordingly. I always knew that he expected more out of me than the people around me, and honestly I expected more from myself. I also knew that I would have to prove to the other employees that I deserved to work there, and that I was going to be a productive member of the company, not just there because my dad owns it.

 

My step-dad and me working on the ranch.

 

All through I college I worked in various departments. During the school year when I didn’t have as much time, I would come in when I could and file and email reports to clients. I even came in on the weekends to get it done. For winter breaks, I worked in the lab calibrating equipment. During spring and summer breaks I would work in the engineering design department, doing field work and learning how to write reports. The only time that I took off was for a week or so during summer for a family vacation. I worked hard, and people noticed. I would do whatever anyone asked and tried to help out in whatever way I could. I think people on the outside just think that I was handed that job, that I didn’t work that hard for it. I would tell you that I did, and I think so would people at my company. Four years later, and I graduated with a Bachelor’s in civil engineering.

When I graduated I went to work full time for the same company. I worked in the engineering design department for the summer, and while doing that I discovered that I really liked construction. One of our long-time managers quit in the construction department and I saw an opportunity. I asked to be moved over to that department to help with the transition and my request was granted. I became an assistant project manager. Now, in this department there are a lot of older, gruff men who might think that I don’t know anything and that I don’t belong there. And that was true. I didn’t know a lot, but I was ready to learn. I didn’t want to be seen as the know-it-all young engineer that people probably assumed me to be. So, I did anything I could to help the guys out, make their lives easier. I made sure they had the plans and materials they needed in order to do their job better. Then when I did go in the field, I asked questions. I showed them that I wanted to learn and that I wanted their help. Not only have I learned a lot by doing this, but the guys that I work with respect me more and appreciate how I have transitioned into my position.

Transitioning into a management position at such a young age is difficult. Add being the owner’s daughter on top of it and people are sure to hate you. But there are ways to make sure that your coworkers know that you belong there and that you worked hard to get where you are at. You may have had help getting the job, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t prove that you should be there. Ask questions, don’t pretend like you know it all. Because trust me, you don’t. And be helpful. Use the skills that you do have to help other people and they will appreciate you a lot more. It’s risky mixing business with family, but going at it with the right attitude can mean all the difference in the world.

Comment below and tell me how you have transitioned to a bigger role in your company!

Author: Lindsey Owens

Civil Engineer | MBA Student | Young Professional

1 thought on “Family Business is Risky Business”

  1. This is one of the hardest things to do! I want to pursue my own business but I also want to help employ my family. I think having the right attitude does make a difference. This even includes hiring people you know. Professionalism first!

    Like

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