In an all-too-familiar scenario, a well-known family business in our area recently suffered a significant breakdown in family dynamics and consequently, business operations. I often say and have lived it myself, “When the family dynamics are strained, it puts the lid on a business’s ability to grow,” not to mention the negative impact on family relationships.
Sometimes children come straight into the family business from high school. Other times, they go off and pursue their own careers and dreams and come into the family business later in life. Owning and operating a family business requires a special kind of attention to detail. It also requires an immense amount of planning and strategizing to successfully integrate new family members into an existing set of family members within the business framework. While this can be an exciting time, it can also be unsettling and leave you scrambling for solutions. How does one find a role for and integrate a banker, a manager or a therapist into the business? What about those who have outgrown their roles? Worse yet, what about when the role has outgrown the adult child? Roles and functions can get confusing and seeds of discord can be sown.
In this two-part series, I’ll be sharing ideas to support you in discovering ways to proceed both in your business and with your family.
Part One – Key Strategies for Business Success
One of the tools we use extensively with our clients in order to identify a person’s natural wiring is a profile assessment. This is distinct, although natural wiring is often confused with skills. Skills are defined and developed as things we learn through our experience. Natural wiring is the propensity to natural ways of thinking and being. These profile assessments point to certain roles in which a person will naturally do well. People still require training to develop in their role. However, they will easily grasp the concepts.
Clearly defined, accurate positional agreements, or job descriptions, are critical. When presented properly, the responsibilities and duties along with the key performance indicators of effectiveness in those tasks create clarity and the ability to objectively review one’s performance.
A current and future organizational chart outlines who reports to who and where the company is headed in terms of the human resource requirements and opportunities.
The “onboarding” process of integrating new team members into the business is best thought of as unfolding over weeks and months rather than over the course of days. This is part of well-structured human resource practices, policies and procedures.
Sometimes family business owners feel torn between the business and the family when issues arise. Understanding that challenges are to be expected, it’s best to think through criteria to manage them before they arise. This can lead to even greater workability and maturity within the family and can serve to develop a successful multi-generational family business.
In Part Two, I’ll go over the concept of the family business house and moving from a one-room house to a four-room house in order to operate a thriving family business.
A Family-Owned, Generational Business Challenge – Part Two
As your business grows in size and scope there are some unique roles that, when filled thoughtfully, will make a world of difference to the workability of your business, your family and your team.