How best to prepare f the next up and coming Family Business Leader
Conversely, many younger generations are not that interested in taking on significant responsibility in their family businesses. Younger family members may be woefully unprepared to take on leadership roles when the business needs them, or may not wish to take on the burden of responsibility — either for managing the business or for “reporting” to other family shareholders. Several challenging familial conditions may exist, often in combination.
A number of obstacles can exhibit themselves as follows ;
The older family business generation avoids or doesn’t know how to think about succession and transition; they cross their fingers and go about their daily duties, hoping that if they keep the business going, someone will be ready and willing to lead it at the right time. In turn, the kids might believe that mom or grandpa will go on forever, and often that is exactly what their elders want them to believe.
The parental generation may be so strong, staunch, or controlling that even if children have specific functional roles, they don’t get the opportunity to participate in decision-making or leadership. They may not learn crucial skills of management, negotiation, or planning. Given their paltry level of exposure, they may believe that managing the business is supposed to be easy and straightforward.
The family business can be a turn-off. Too often, the conversations at home consist of one complaint or emergency after another. Children may absorb the idea that working in the family business is difficult, unpleasant, and never-ending.
And yet so many of these obstacles could be remedied with some forethought and openness. Here are several approaches that can familiarize younger members of the family with the ins and outs of today’s business, and get them ready to feel comfortable taking the reins in the future:
Build a shadowing program.
Even young children can be exposed to the excitement of the business environment. The Family business leader can start with something as limited as a “Bring Your Children to Work” day as a way to get the tradition of involvement going for all employees without placing undue emphasis on the children of owners. Over time, teenagers can express interest in particular roles or departments, and these efforts can grow into formal internship and apprenticeship programs in which young people learn about the business and what kinds of careers are available.
Create progressive developmental experiences.
Moving family members through the organization gives them the opportunity to learn all aspects of the business. As they gain technical competence in various areas, they can also have multiple chances to manage different work groups. In this way, they learn the mechanics of the business while simultaneously gaining experience in general management.
Offer context for business goals and operations.
Gear explanations about the importance and value of building the business, its financing, and its mode of operations to the ages and acumen of each generation. Dinnertime conversation can start with the goods and services the business delivers and include future-oriented conversation about the company’s mission, as well as what it means to be responsible for the livelihoods of employees and therefore other people’s families.
Educate the entire family.
Not every child will choose to work in the business. And yet all family members who may become shareholders and whose lives may be affected by the business will benefit from understanding how the business fits into their present and future lives. A Family Council can be an effective venue for keeping the family connected both to the business and to each other. The family council, often with the support of outside experts, becomes a place where the family can discuss their mission and governance principles, and where different branches of a larger family can get to know each other.
Leaders of family businesses should be assessing the skills, talents, and desires of their children at all stages, and giving them as many opportunities as possible to learn about the business today, and how to ensure its successful future. Using these road-tested approaches will help. Even while understanding that some kids may not wish to join the business, it’s still possible to build a stronger family bond and support the business, to everyone’s benefit.
(All factual and statistical information presented in this blog has been obtained from an extract of a recent article published by the Harvard Business Review at www.hbr.org.) Follow us on our Facebook page and Family Business Office website at www.familybusiness.org.mt
At the Family Business Office we can offer you assistance in dealing with family business succession planning issues through incentives supporting advisory and mediation services. Contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org.