The Art of Managing a Family Business

The relevance of a major investment, the hiring or firing of a staff member, an office relocation; there are many opportunities for divergent points of views among the members of a management team.

But when they are also part of the same family, the tension can rise to a whole new level. Here are a few simple tips to keep harmony within the family.

  1. Be a diplomat
  2. Have a protocol
  3. Go beyond the business
  4. Make a consensus
  5. Define the roles
  6. Accept the new generation

1 – Be a Diplomat

Always a must, but even more so in a family business, family members must exercise exemplary diplomacy and listening skills. In the face of contradictory opinions, the first thing to make sure is that the people involved have been able to express themselves fully in a serene atmosphere.

If differences persist and one member is in a position of authority, the member should first thank the other for his or her commitment and contribution to the company and then clearly explain the reasons why his or her point of view is not retained.

2 – Have a Protocol

When the family business is founded, or when a family member joins the business, be aware that disagreements will occur. It is therefore very wise to have an impasse resolution protocol in place BEFORE an impasse occurs. This protocol is documented and approved by all family members involved in the business. A mediator, independent of the family, can be included in this protocol.

3 – Go Beyond the Business

As you can see, clear and regular communication between family members is crucial. Do not take for granted the de facto adherence of everyone to important decisions simply because they are part of the family. Beyond business meetings, plan regular meetings that allow for conversations in a relaxed atmosphere and ask the question: “How are you?”

4 – Make a Consensus

Invite all family members involved to participate in the development of the strategic plan. United around a consensus, the contribution of all family members will be maximized.

5 – Define the Roles

The tasks and responsibilities of each member must be clearly defined, ideally according to their interests. This will avoid unnecessary friction with other family members or with other employees, who may no longer know to whom they are accountable.

6 – Accept the New Generation

The successful integration of the younger generation into the company is a key factor in the sustainability of a family business. Having been at the head of the company for several years, parents can become stuck in a certain management automatism that could prove to be dangerous.  Accept that the younger generation comes with a head full of ideas; act as a mentor, give them challenges and, above all, share information generously.

A family business requires the deployment of a finely tuned relationship at all times. But the members of a family united behind the same corporate vision provide the company with many advantages: an extraordinary level of commitment and effort, a seasoned succession and, dare we say it, the unique satisfaction of being part of a team that can meet any challenge.