I’ve had the opportunity work with family businesses over the last several years as a business coach. There are some common threads, or shall we say “challenges” that are inherent to many of them. One of the things I see is friction between the different generations whom are working together. The founding generation (typically the elder generation) tends to hold on to their business and manages it firmly and with pride (and rightfully so). Second and third generations who have been working in the family business sometimes for many years get quite frustrated when they feel that their effort is not rewarded in either income or additional responsibilities.
In most cases I suggest that a plan be put together in writing. I refer to this as succession planning and how the business and responsibilities will transition from one generation to the next. This becomes even more important if there are three or more generations within the business. By putting the succession plan in writing that creates a set of expectations that each generation can expect from the other.
Family Business needs a plan
When this is not in place the frustration within the generations becomes immense. In turn this typically affects the business and its employees in a negative way. The employees don’t feel that the family ownership is in harmony and are going in the same direction. This makes it very difficult for them to follow leadership or understand the vision and mission. The result is they cannot work together effectively don’t move the business forward.
I often suggest that the younger generation breakdown a plan of what they would like to see happen in the business. Over time and through multiple meetings with the older generation we calmly and unemotionally discuss what the opportunities might be for them to move on to more responsibilities and possibly more income. Honest and open discussion of what the company needs to improve in order for these steps be taken requires a written outline, understanding, professional calm and unemotional conversations needs take place so all generations can be on the same page. When a generation’s legacy (in every sense of the word) is at stake, the requirement for the agreements to be in writing and the discussions to be as candid and open as humanly possible cannot be understated.
Family Business in Harmony
When this takes place, family businesses typically take major steps forward. It creates new levels of trust, allows the younger generations to perform with more courage and energy and builds both the professional and personal relationships among family members .This creates stronger bonds, clear vision and leadership for the employees and in general a better (calmer, happier, lower stress, less strife)life.
If you would like to know how Lighthouse Strategic Partners works with our clients to help implement and to build this trust among family members, please contact us at 508-946-2655 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.