It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..or is it??

Christmas is supposed to be for relaxing, spending time with loved ones and leaving all the work stress behind.

But sadly it’s not always the case. The pressure to buy gifts, entertain and socialise with relatives you might not choose to spend time with can mean the festive season is not quite as relaxing and enjoyable as you might like.

Throw a family business into the mix and you could be looking at a potential recipe for disaster.

Christmas usually means being able to take a complete break from work, but how is that possible if the people sat round your Christmas dinner table are the same ones which look back at you around the boardroom?

Worse still, what if Christmas means coming together with the family member who was overlooked for succession, or the one who had to be let go from the business?

There are many factors and possible tensions which can make an already tricky situation even more sticky. So how do you make sure your festive celebrations don’t turn sour?

We often find that a sprinkling of ground rules and a large measure of good will can keep the festivities on track.

Talking family, not family business

If you work closely with your relatives (particularly if you live together), you hopefully already have some rules in place that ensure you know how to be a family outside the family business.

This places importance on making sure there are times when you come together as a family and don’t talk about the business – and Christmas is definitely one of those times.

For that day, try to forget that you might be managing director and head of sales rather than father and son, mother and daughter, or husband and wife.

Even if you enjoy talking shop, we all need a good break from work so that we can come back renewed and refreshed – there’s also a strong possibility that the rest of your family and friends don’t want to feel as if they have walked into a staff meeting rather than a Christmas party.

There’s also the risk that any seemingly innocent business conversations could spiral out of control as a result of heightened stress and tension, especially if there are already underlying issues at work. A stress-fuelled, and perhaps even alcohol-fuelled, argument about work is not helpful for the personal or professional relationships.

By agreeing to leave the subject of work off the table, you avoid that risk and get to reconnect with your family members as loved ones, rather than colleagues.

Focus on what’s going on in the family, what the children are doing, who’s going on what holiday next year and bust out the board games – work will still be there in the New Year and you’ll be able to go back with renewed vigour after lots of fun and laughs with your loved ones.

For more tips and advice on running a family business, please contact Juliette Ryley ActionCoach to find out more.