July 23, 2015|

Brothers In Arms – Family Dynamics in the Workplace

  • Brothers in Business via TAPED the ECHOtape blog
Brothers in Business via TAPED the ECHOtape blog 640x394

Can siblings actually work well together? Yes! Meet Darren & Kevin Quesnel and Mike & Stephen Grevatt, brothers who make working at ECHOtape fun and successful.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Maurice and Charles Saatchi. Venus and Serena Williams. David and Frederick Barclay. The Marx Brothers. The Kennedys. The Property Brothers. All seven of the Kardashian-Jenners.

These famous brothers and sisters own and run businesses together that can be characterized by strength, joy, love and support as much as dysfunction, disharmony and disaster. And why not?  Siblings grow up teasing one another, competing for attention, and fighting over toys. Being the best of friends and the worst of enemies comes with the territory, and when they work together as adults, longtime conflicts can easily re-emerge, threatening both the business and the family.

So when a company that is run by siblings succeeds, it’s no small matter. And thankfully, ECHOtape is one of those examples. My sister, Cherie, and I share C-suite roles at our family business, but we are blessed to have two sets of brothers who also work side-by-side successfully in the trenches.

We decided to ask them what makes working together so rewarding.


DARREN & KEVIN QUESNEL 

Although Kevin (1997, M.I.S. Specialist) has worked for ECHOtape almost as long as Darren (1993, Warehouse Manager), Darren was Kevin’s direct supervisor for 10 years. An interesting dynamic that might have caused tension in others, but not so for the Quesnels, who both say that working together has made them closer.

What is the upside of working with your brother?
Darren: Clearly the innate trust and teamwork that is associated with family.
Kevin: Because we’re brothers, “work” never really felt like work. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had working with your sibling?
Darren: For 10 years, Kevin reported directly to me, so my biggest challenge was making sure favoritism was never an issue. I worked really hard to treat him exactly the same as all the other employees.
Kevin: Everyone always asks: “How do work so well together?” The truth is, how do we not? We’ve always gotten along well growing up, so there was hardly a transition once we started working together. It felt seamless. 

What has surprised you the most about working with your brother?
Darren: Being able to keep a great personal life that never gets in the way of our professional responsibilities.

What advice would you give to someone working with their sibling?
Darren: Keep it professional and not personal, being family members it is important to realize that its ok to have different visions, find a way to be able to separate and except this and keep work at work and personal life a priority the best you can. Family is extremely important and working in a family oriented company I believe has helped make this connection work.
Kevin: Approach every work scenario as a black-and-white; don’t make it personal.  If you can separate work life from family life, then you’ll do just great.

Because you work together, what have you learned about yourself or your brother that you did not already know?
Kevin: Leadership. I’ve become a better leader by working so closely with Darren, being able to watch him handle different situations has taught me so much. 


MIKE & STEPHEN GREVATT 

The Grevatts know a thing or two about tape. In two short years, Mike Grevatt (1977, VP Sales & Marketing) will have celebrated his 40th Anniversary with ECHOtape, and for almost 30 of those years, he’s had the pleasure of working with his brother, Stephen (1987, General Manager – West Coast Operation).

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had working with your brother?
Mike: Definitely, learning to keep it professional. Which is also the best advice I would give to anyone who works with family.  Keep. It. Professional.
Stephen: Sometimes… just taking each other for granted.  

What can you say about your family, its culture and traditions that affect your working relationship with your sibling?
Mike:  As another of my siblings once said,”It is nice to come home and realize where your neurosis stem from.”
Stephen: We can blame our parents for all of it. Seriously, my parents passed down many traits, but the one Mike and I share is ‘work hard and don’t take short cuts’. Because of that, I know he can always be counted on, personally and professionally.

Because you work together, what have you learned about yourself or your brother that you did not already know?
Mike: That momma likes him best.
Stephen: Mike and I have completely different personalities. Sometimes that’s tough, but through it all I have learned that we can share the same goals and get there together, successfully, as a team, even with lots of diversification.

What advice would you give to someone working with their sibling?
Stephen: Remember  to stop every once in a while and ask how they are doing personally. Sometimes you get so caught up in work you forget about the rest of life that is going on every day.


As for Cherie and I… well, you can click here to read our interview!

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