As a family owned and operated business, MASS Environmental Services Inc. has been navigating the peaks and valleys of working side-by-side with the ones you love most since 2001. Today, the second generation of the Brown clan has become a key force within the company, with Mac (age 26) and Alex (age 25) both holding management roles based out of our Cobourg, Ontario headquarters.
Alex is our Operations Manager, which means she oversees the daily services for over 1,000 locations across Canada including Non-Hazardous Waste, Hazardous Waste, Confidential Shredding, Grease Trap Services, and Used Cooking Oil Collection. On top of this, she provides executive support in all contract negotiations, while managing our team of customer service coordinators who report to her.
Mac is our Waste Audit Manager, which means he leads the audit team to complete over 250 24-Hour Waste Audits each year from coast-to-coast. This requires consistent travel and strong client communication, followed by intensive data management in the report compilation when he returns back to the office. In addition, he provides executive support on business development, working on the continuous growth of MASS year-over-year.
In other words, … Mac and Alex are both busy young professionals with a lot on their plate. For many people, this could translate into stress, irritability, and the tendency to take it out on your easiest target. And who could be easier than a sibling? You grow up side by side as best friends one minute, and sparring the next! But somehow, Alex and Mac have found a way to put aside the complications that haunt many sibling relationships and make theirs work – in AND out of the workplace. Here’s how:
Tip # 1 – Never Forget Your Common Goals
“We both want the same things for the company, even when we don’t necessarily agree on how to get there,” shares Mac. Both Brown siblings agree that consistently reminding themselves that they both have the best interests of the company (and each other) in mind at all times, helps them to put traditional sibling rivalry on the backburner.
“When you are working towards the same end-goal, you are team mates. Team mates respect one another, and work cohesively to get to where they are going,” Alex adds, with Mac nodding along.
If you can share a common goal, and keep this in mind, you will always know the other person is on your side. Keeping this mindset at the forefront is key to eliminating rivalry.
Tip # 2 – Accept Your Natural Competitive Nature – & Embrace It!
“I think it’s natural for both of us to want to be the very best at whatever we are doing in any given situation,” Alex explains. “We are competitive by nature, and this can turn into a sort of sibling rivalry.”
But Alex and Mac have developed a unique mindset that allows them to reframe that sense of rivalry. Rather than rejecting it, they accept that a certain level of rivalry is healthy, and maybe even a good thing.
“If knowing Alex is doing well brings out a competitive side of me, and motivates me to push myself further, I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing,” adds Mac. “We use a healthy dose of sibling rivalry to hold ourselves to a certain standard We both expect ourselves to do well, so that we can live up to the bar that the other has set. It’s cyclical, and keeps us moving onward and upward.”
Tip # 3 – Just Say “No” to Resentment
Accepting a certain level of sibling rivalry is all well and good, but what do you do when it escalates? Mac and Alex have a simple but effective strategy. They simply say “No” to resentment, and insist upon enjoying one another’s successes.
“In our situation, we’ve both learned to control our emotions. We’ve learned to reject feelings of negativity or jealousy that could arise in seeing someone else succeed,” Mac explains. “We just don’t let ourselves feel that way,” Alex adds, elaborating, “We make the choice to be happy for one another every single time we achieve something exciting, no matter how small.”
By enjoying one another’s successes, rather than being envious, Mac and Alex have found a way to multiply the joy that comes with achieving their goals, creating a stronger bond of comradery as both co-workers and family.
Tip # 4 – Third Party Accountability Checks
Disagreements are natural in a sibling relationship, especially one where you are working together every single day. However, if they do disagree about how a certain project should be approached, Mac and Alex typically are able to communicate openly with one another to find a resolution. If this doesn’t happen, however, they have a solution.
“As young adults, we obviously do not want to have to go to our parents about our disagreements on a regular basis, however in the rare situation that we cannot come to an agreement, we’ve learned that talking it out with them as a neutral third party can be the exact mediation tool we need to find a solution,” Mac says.
“Exactly,” Alex agrees. “Our parents are great about not feeding us the solution directly, but instead just being an open listening ear that allows us to voice our concerns in a neutral environment. Having a neutral third party to hold us accountable really helps in the rare situation where we cannot figure it out for ourselves.”
Tip # 5 – Have Fun Together
‘All work and no play’ is a recipe for disaster. With siblings, it is important to have fun together and reconnect – after all, they were probably your first playmate as a child, and there’s no reason you can’t let loose together and have fun as friends now too!
“It’s essential for me that Alex and I never allow our relationship become one of just co-workers. She’s my sister first, and I never want to lose sight of that. So scheduling in time together outside of work to enjoy one another’s company is really important to keep our relationship strong and healthy,” Mac explains.
Alex clearly agrees, stating: “Spending time with one another outside of the office allows us to come back to work feeling positive and refreshed. Laughing together, and having fun together is key to working together, and being productive together. They go hand in hand.”
And there you have it! Mac and Alex Brown, our Waste Audit Manager, and Operations Manager from MASS Environmental Services Inc. have shared their tips for working cohesively and cooperatively as both siblings and co-workers in a close-knit environment. Do you have any ideas on how to maximize either your work or family relationships? Leave a comment below and let us know what has worked for you!