by Jacqueline Hall on 5 February 2019 2:33pm : 168

At various points in our lives, we look at our parents and consciously or unconsciously ask ‘Do I want to be like them?’.  Through the journey of childhood and adolescence into adulthood this question, waits to be answered.

Anticipatory Socialisation

Through a process called anticipatory socialisation we’re exposed to ideas about our future occupation. You may have seen family members being unemployed, employed as cleaners or doctors. What you see directs you towards certain types of employment.  Unless you step outside the box.

When I worked in the FE sector, many times I counselled people who, despite their grades hoped to become a ‘something’ because it was what their parents expected.  They were at that point unable to satisfy their parent’s needs, but this didn’t stop them hoping. As a coach I work with people who, many years after taking a particular path find themselves unsatisfied and unfulfilled, wondering where the time has gone.

Maybe your family owns a business and you worked there during the holidays.  Given that dynamic the questions to be answered include ‘Do I want to follow in the family’s footsteps?’, ‘Do I want to be about my family’s business?’, “Does my future lie in the business built by the previous generation/s?’.  

The Influencers

The influencers in this process:

  • Family expectations and traditions which are absorbed from childhood
  • Peers and friends which are types of organisation through which you learn how to communicate outside the family structure
  • The types of media messages received about the sector in which the business sits
  • The subjects studied as part of your education, and
  • Part-time employment elsewhere or in the family business.

These influencers don’t carry equal weight but do have impact.

The Struggle

This is on several fronts:

  • The desire to please.  Most children – even into adulthood - wants to please their parents, to live up to their expectations and standards.  The business founder’s expressed desire, and or family employment tradition exert much pressure. Are you tempted to give in to the emotional pull, or to breakaway, follow your own path and disappoint?”
  • The desire for independence.  From the time you could put a spoon to your mouth – however messy it was - you have wanted to act independently.  You may have defined values that don’t align with those of the business and are reluctant to adjust. Are you prepared give up you values so you can fit in?  Would you prefer to find employment elsewhere and not compromise?
  • The desire to belong.  Being associated with and part of a family gives identity.  Employment in the family business takes that sense of belonging to another level.  It means ready acceptance, being looked after, not having to swim in the employment pool that others are in.   Does your comfort come from knowing that there is a place where you will be received with open arms?
  • Degree of interest and motivation.  There is a saying “Your heart lies with what you treasure”.  If you’re really interested in its success, you will be motivated to perform to your best. Working in the family business is not always an easy pass, and you really need to decide if your skillset is suitable for what’s required and expected.  If not ...

Moving Forward
In Thomas’s case, as expected, he worked in the family business with his siblings, and was well liked.  Highly respected, it was anticipated that he would eventually take over the helm from his parents. Thomas struggled though, and really felt his future really lay elsewhere.  His parents were disappointed when told, and his siblings felt he had not only let down his parents, but them as well. Although he eventually did return to the business, he realised it really wasn’t for him and left for good despite the internal and external upheaval and pressure experienced.  

Personal Leadership Coaching will help you to forge your pathway.  If you, or someone you know is struggling with the issues raised call 0203 290 1253. 

Call 02032901253 or book a 30min conversation today to speak about your needs.