Tips for Working with Your Sibling

At its core, EFBC is made up of Family Businesses. As of July 2022, just over 70% of our members are currently working in some capacity with or in their family business. A subset of that percentage comes from those who work with their siblings.

Sibling dynamics are interesting, from a social perspective, but even more so when it comes to running successful business. There are generally two reactions when telling people that you work with a sibling, either clutching their pearls and questioning how exactly they do it, or the flipside of sharing in excitement for the opportunity to work closely with an immediate family member. Well, we wanted to explore the positives, and demonstrate that it is possible and exciting to work in conjunction with a sibling! We asked a few of our members to give us their top tips for successfully working with their siblings and here’s our top three!

  1. Vulnerable, honest, and open communication

“My brothers and I meet monthly for lunch and follow the forum protocol by updating on family, personal and business challenges, or successes. We ask clarifying questions when necessary.  While we are working, we shift hats a lot – from owners to siblings – and this takes some diligence.  Especially when there are difficult or emotional conversations!  Trust is a critical component of our success, and we continue to build trust by talking with each other, relying on each other, and caring for each other.”

-Gina Krusinski, Krusinski Construction Company, Owner and VP Human Resources

  1. You only know what you know

“The best advice I have is that sometimes you need outside help. In a multi-generational family business, you only know what you know. It helps to bring in a set of fresh eyes to merge the goals of different generations within siblings. One sibling’s goals may be very different than another. When working on a strategic plan, 3 or 5 year, it’s important to examine all sibling goals with someone outside the family business in order to achieve alignment and understand what everyone is working toward for the future.”

-Susan Jania-Foley, Diamond Envelope Corporation, CEO

  1. Focus on keeping that relationship healthy

“Having a healthy sibling relationship is the forefront of my priority, because at the end of the day, that family relationship will always come first for me with Andy.  I believe that having open communication on ALL aspects of the business is integral.  There should be no surprises!   The other aspect of having a successful working relationship that I follow is professionalism.  When stepping into the office every morning, my brother becomes my manager, associate, teammate, etc.  Just as I would with any other colleague, I maintain a high level of professionalism with him at the workplace.   Our discussions regarding personal matters are kept to a minimum at the office.   It has been 1 ½ years since I have been working with Andy and feel that our business and personal relationship has been the strongest! “

-Nisha Patel, Systematics, Inc. Director of Human Resources

These individuals, and many more in EFBC, regularly demonstrate the many benefits of working with your siblings. While it may not always be easy, when done well, it can be extremely rewarding both from a business perspective and from a relational standpoint.

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