C.P.J Field

The IFB’s inaugural Family Business Week ran from 22nd to 26th of November to celebrate family businesses across the length and breadth of the UK, and focusing on the role of business as a force for good.

Founded in 1690, family-run C.P.J. Field is the UK’s oldest funeral directors. The 10th generation family business is led by siblings Jeremy, Emily and Charlie, alongside the Board of Directors, which includes five members of the Field family. Emily Hendin, Director at C.P.J Field, shares insight below on how to harmoniously work alongside family.

Wherever possible, always travel to and from meetings together – never under estimate the power of conversation had side by side. The car offers the perfect environment for trickier discussions to be had as direct eye contact is not possible. It also offers a ‘safer’ more relaxed environment than an office space where more frank and honest discussions can take place.

Respect one another’s boundaries – some may work best first thing in the morning, keen to share new ideas, thoughts for the day ahead before 9am. Others may be night owls, wanting to dissect the day after dark. Be respectful of one another’s commitments and lay out the ground rules early on and call one another out if and when boundaries are over stepped.

Our grandfather gave us all the same piece of advice the night before our weddings ‘never go to sleep on an argument’. Whilst this is sound marital advice, it’s also good family business advice, as thoughts can fester if left unsaid.  If a meeting has been challenging, resolve any tension before the end of the working day, don’t allow it to roll over.

Agree on a set of meeting rules and ensure everyone is signed up to them. We have them on our board room wall and we check in with them during meetings and call one another to account:

  • It’s ok to challenge
  • Tension feeds energy and its positive
  • It’s ok to disagree. Once a decision is made, we unite behind it once the meeting is over
  • What is said in the meeting stays in the meeting
  • Don’t apologise
  • Be brave
  • Be bothered

Keep it professional – We may be siblings, we may know how to get a rise out of one another at the expense of professionalism – but we must keep this for the pub. Colleagues can feel ‘left out’ or side-lined if interactions in meetings become too personal and it makes for awkward tensions too.

Don’t talk about business outside of business – We have a family rule that when we are together for family time, the conversation of business needs to be checked at the door. Our spouses have carte blanche to call us on this to ensure we keep it in check. It also helps ensure we both work and play hard.

State our values and strive to live by them – Our family business is founded on our family values, values which we vow to uphold in our daily conduct and values by which we judge our colleagues too. We are all committed to living true to our company values and we hold each other accountable for that.

Founded in 1690, C.P.J Field is the UK’s oldest family-run funeral directors. With over 30 homes across southern England, the company prides itself on its family’s values, that no two lives are the same so no two funerals should be the same, as every life is unique.