Working successfully together as mother and daughter team

The challenge

You would think that considering Anisa is a proverbial chip off an old block that we would work harmoniously all the time. Not so. Both of us are creative and work in similar ways but we are both head strong, fiercely independent and resist being told what to do especially by each other!

Anisa asked to do her industrial placement with me as she is already proving to be a skilled trainer of young people and won the Aim Higher Mentor of the Year award for Birmingham. The family were sceptical - "but you will just fight all the time " was the regular protest.

In the first two months of our working together, bearing in mind we work with associates who are freelance and work remotely as indeed we do, it was a nightmare. We got to the point we couldn't even communicate rationally. I was clearly the dinosaur of business and she was the new girl on the business block. Twitter? What's that? Facebook? Not using that, it's for kids, said I firmly as I went back to the regular marketing techniques I'd always used.

Tasks would be allocated but Anisa would get better ideas and want to run with those. I would be chasing her for work we'd agreed but instead she'd come back with a new initiative which, being stubborn, I wouldn't accept. Finally it reached a point when I threatened disciplinary action. She threatened me with her sister who's a lawyer!

In the end, we agreed to part company. She started to look for other placements, I decided to rethink Fifteen Minute Trainer. After two weeks, we missed each other. (Ahhh.) We did have some fun and she is an amazing businesswoman with great potential. Clients loved her. All the good things about working with Anisa were coming to mind and I conveniently forgot about the rows.

It was pointed out to me as well that she is only 20.

I called a board meeting (in our PJs and over cups of tea) and told her how impressed I was with her skills and acumen and would like to carry on with the working relationship. She was so happy and hugged me. Was that appropriate behaviour for a co-director I asked? We fell about laughing.

The solution

We drew up a list of our skills and looked at the best way of dividing the tasks within the business - i.e. putting in boundaries. We agreed that between certain hours of the day we would use a business style of communication - no calling me Mum and I couldn't call her babes. Instead of trying to control her every move and make her account for her time, I gave her more independence and agreed task-based working rather than time based. I gave her 25% shares in the company as an incentive but drew the line at a company car. The old banger would have to suffice for a while.

Being a specialist trainer in motivation, I have gone about things with my own daughter in exactly the way I advise clients against doing  - i.e. I tried to control her instead of trusting. Once I had empowered her to carry out certain responsibilities in the business, the relationship changed. She now works remotely from her own place and we link in once or twice a week. We check each other's diaries on line and send updates when necessary. She is flying.  We are working for a common goal: to build up the business so that when she graduates she can take it on and keep me in a manner to which I can quickly become accustomed.

Key lesson

If you are going to work with family, especially mother and daughter (think of all those hormones), clear boundaries of behaviour, work, responsibilities, expectations etc must be agreed at the beginning. It is a business relationship like any other. Have an independent third party as a non exec director to mediate when necessary. Don't drag any other members of the family into the dispute.

Top tip

Don't live with the person you work with!!

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