Working with Siblings

Working with family can be challenging, as well as highly beneficial. To celebrate Brothers and Sisters Day on 31 May, Tricia Fox offers her five top tips to successfully work with siblings.

1. Be clear about your responsibilities right from the get go; clear job descriptions and lines of reporting are a must. In our business I’m the boss and my sister Kim reports in to me. It’s something Kim is very respectful of and we give each other our place. That said, she’s the first to tell me if she feels I’ve stepped out of line!

2. Leave family (as much as you can) at the office door, the office is no place for sisterly spats, or squabbling. Save that for the weekend. While we get on very well, like any siblings we don’t always agree. That’s natural and actually very good in the business environment, but there’s no need to add a layer of family dynamic to it. It makes everyone else uncomfortable.

3. Understand your relationship dynamics may not be noticeable to you, but will be to others. We never used to reveal to people that we were sisters but when folk finally discovered that we were sisters, they have an “Aha!” moment usually followed by “I wondered how she got away with speaking to you like that” response. Now we’re clear with new starts right from the outset that we’re sisters. Saves confusion!

4. Enjoy the advantage of having a communication shorthand with someone in the office. We can each tell instantly what mood the other is in without even talking, and we can often (almost telepathically) figure out what the other means or wants done with very little background information required. This is highly unusual in the workplace but hugely advantageous. Kim can often run with ideas I’ve come up with very quickly, probably because (although she will never admit it!) she thinks a lot like me.

5. Remember you’re still family! It can be very easy to get into the habit of not seeing your sibling outside of the work environment and that is just odd. My sister and I make a concerted effort to meet up at the weekend occasionally and do “sister” stuff like go for afternoon tea, or just catch up over a cuppa, and try NOT to talk about work.

Tricia Fox is founder and CEO of independent PR & Marketing agency Volpa, based in Perth, Scotland. She works with her sister, Kim Bauchope, Head of Digital at the agency.