A family is strongest when it stands together, so too for a family business. Unfortunately, all too often a family can fall into infighting and this can sabotage family business succession. How do you protect the family and the business through succession? A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, titled “New Wrinkles on How Family Businesses Sabotage Themselves,” examines this subject from a fresh perspective. The article highlights four fundamental pitfalls to avoid:
- Fairness: While parents may want to treat their children equally, when it comes to the family business this is not a good idea. In other words, reward according to merit much like non-family employees.
- Conflict Avoidance: Bring in directors and advisors who are not “in” the family or emotionally related to the family. Independence can help call out the awkward elephants in the room before it is too late.
- Triangulation: Resolve “family issues” within the family. No one else really needs to see non-business dirty laundry.
- Bullying and Scapegoating: Some family members may try to control difficult situations and even escape personal responsibility by attacking and blaming others. Stop it early.
Yes, family businesses can fall victim to their own families. Whether due to good intentions or to rivalries that have existed since childhood, you need to be wary of family problems sabotaging the family business.
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Reference: Bloomberg Businessweek (June 17, 2013) “New Wrinkles on How Family Businesses Sabotage Themselves”