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Helping Family Businesses
Prosper Across Generations®

Who Tells Them?

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By John Ward, Ph.D.

Young family members join the family business. Naturally enough, they may be very unpolished in their personal habits and personal etiquette. And, of course, such owning family member weaknesses are magnified in visibility and in the effects on others. But it’s tough for a family member to get honest feedback.

Management Family
I don't want to tell them about their eating manners and their interpersonal faux pas. I don't want to risk the resentment of owners. We really want our members to grow, to learn and to improve. But as family members, it's too emotional to give others very personal feedback.
It's the family's role. It's better if management does it.

 

What to do? A good approach starts very early. Before young family members join the business, they need an orientation that explains that feedback is necessary, is valuable, and everyone wants them to have every chance to succeed at the highest possible level. Part of the entry process is to ask young family members if they are willing to see a career in the family business as a personal growth and learning opportunity.

Then each new, young family entrant can be assigned both a coach-consultant and a non-What to do? A good approach starts very early. Before young family members join the business, they need an orientation that explains that feedback is necessary, is valuable, and everyone wants them to have every chance to succeed at the highest possible level. Part of the entry process is to ask young family members if they are willing to see a career in the family business as a personal growth and learning opportunity.

Then each new, young family entrant can be assigned both a coach-consultant and a non-family, non-boss mentor. The family member can be told that the coach and mentor are to provide honest feedback – the kind bosses and parents are often reluctant to chance. Of course, the coach and mentor also work to establish very supportive and caring relationships with the young family member.

The leadership for this process comes initially from the family. The family forms a Career Development Committee to develop communications and to establish expectations.

Constructive, caring, honest feedback is one of the most difficult and valuable aspects of being a member of a business owning family.

 

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