Working with my Dad
How do I survive the 9-5 with Dave?
Last month, one of our product owners wrote a great article about bringing her daughter to work. For me, it’s slightly different. I work with my dad, every day.
When I mention this to people, or if they put two-and-two together upon seeing our email addresses (Greene-Taylor is a pretty uncommon name), I usually get one of the following three reactions:
Reaction one: “Awww that’s really cute!”
My response: Is it really?
Reaction two: My dad walks over with unknown people. “This is Rachel. She’s a copywriter. And also my daughter“. Sounds of disbelief from unknown people.
My response: “Nice to meet you“…probably with a bright red face if I’m caught unaware at my desk.
Reaction three: “Omg. I could never work with my *insert family member*”
My response: Why not?
Reaction one is a bit annoying. Reaction two is also a bit annoying (and highly amusing for my dad). But it’s reaction three that always takes me by surprise.
I don’t find it hard working with my dad at all. I think we get on really well, which helps. We very rarely work on the same projects, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a business meeting with him.
On the whole, I think we both manage the situation well. And over the years I’ve gathered a few nuggets of wisdom, in case you ever find yourself working with a family member.
Top six tips for working with your dad…
1. Don’t bring it home.
By ‘it’ I don’t mean my dad. I mean work.
We sometimes have a little gossip if some breaking news hits the office – but this is very rare. If you’ve been at work all day, chances are you don’t want to hear about each other’s meetings.
Sure, if one of us has a bad day, then we might have a little moan. But we have an unwritten rule; what happens at work, stays at work.
This isn’t just for the sake of our own sanity – I think my mum might get the hump if she had to sit through discussions on the new motor proposition, or the performance of an A/B test.
2. Dads are embarrassing. Accept it.
From ill-timed jokes to oversharing, dads are well known for embarrassing their kids. I’m used to mine – and he’s not actually too bad.
The only time I can remember wanting to kill him was when he decided to do a ‘Wig out for MS’ charity day. He had to wear a different wig every hour to raise money. And as he’s been bald for as long as I can remember, seeing him with hair was very entertaining.
The actual wig-wearing wasn’t the source of the embarrassment – he ended up raising a lot of money. But when he donned the blonde locks in the middle of a huddle and announced how much ‘I now look like Rachel’, safe to say I was slightly mortified when everyone looked in my direction to judge the likeness.
3. You’ll always want to back them.
Blood is thicker than water. And work. And colleagues.
Not everyone is going to like you, that’s just a fact of life. You can rub people up the wrong way or disagree with them from time to time. People are entitled to their own judgements, but it’s very hard if anyone has a bad word to say about your family.
No one has ever said anything bad to me about my dad, because he’s a nice bloke 99% of the time, but there might have been a few raised eyebrows on a couple of occasions once they’d figured out the bloodline.
And it works both ways. If we’ve had a bad meeting or generic work frustrations, we don’t impose our feelings about other people on each other.
4. Free lunches.
I’m not sure I should include this one, because he’s likely to read the article. But most of the time I can convince my dad it’s his turn to pay for lunch/coffee/breakfast.
We don’t go for lunch together every day, but we will go for a bite to eat once or twice a week. I really like this, especially since I moved out of the family home in the summer. It’s nice to have a catch-up.
5. Dave or Dad. Dad or Dave.
Dave if I’m talking to him.
Dad if I’m talking about him.
If I’m talking to him directly, I’ll call my dad by his first name. Dave. This makes some people laugh if they know the relation, but it just seems more professional in an open plan office.
However, if I’m talking about what we got up to over the weekend, then I’ll refer to Dave as Dad.
6. Keep it ‘professional’.
He has a wicked sense of humour. And I’m known to take a joke too far. With family, you can often get away with comments and remarks that you wouldn’t dare say to normal civilised humans.
In the office, we don’t take the mick out of each other. If we were to do this in the office, I think it sets a precedent for other people to talk to us in a similar way. And I wouldn’t like that.
Here’s a good example of my discomfort being a source of amusement to my father…
So, to sum it up, working with Dave has never been an issue. We get on well in the office, and we get on even better outside of it. And if you establish boundaries, then it’s not something I’d warn others about.
In fact, I’d recommend it.
Dave says: I agree with Rach. Our work rarely overlaps, and we work professionally together when we need to. However, it might be weird if she had to sign off my annual leave or analyse my timesheet. Also, she thinks I don't know when it's her turn to pay for lunch...but I always know!