“F” is for “Family”… Not “Feud”

“F” is for “Family”… Not “Feud”

For many family business owners, it takes trial and error to discover how to handle the emotional and financial implications of bringing a new family member on board. As a former family business owner myself, a recent article in Success magazine struck a real chord with me. So, to save you some time and stress, here are six of the most important points from that article, in capsule form:

1. Don’t assume good family relationships automatically translate to good business relationships. People think you must take care of family first, but if you don’t take care of the business, the business can’t take care of the family.

2. Clearly define each person’s role and get it in writing, along with a succession plan. Treat family relationships just like you would any other business partner or employee.

3. Establish weekly meetings where personal affairs are set aside and everyone leaves with a concrete assignment. Keep personal business out of the boardroom. Make a strict business agenda and stick to it.

4. When considering bringing a son or daughter into the business, do so gradually. Introduce them informally when they are young, and then with established part-time jobs. It gives the younger generation a true sense of the business, while the parent can gauge their skills and work ethic.

5. Don’t set up family members in direct reporting relationships. Coming from the boss, a request sounds like “clean up the shop floor”.  But coming from mother (boss) to son (employee) it sounds a lot more like “clean up your bedroom”. By keeping reporting relationships outside of family relationships, criticism, instructions and praise are business conversations, not family history.

6. Don’t be afraid to bring in consultants. Outside professionals can be useful to establish day-to-day policy and long-term succession plans, and to resolve conflict.

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