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Human Resources in Family Business


By David Ransburg, Wendy Sage-Hayward and Amy Schuman

The tricky issues faced by family businesses are often centered on people – both in and out of the family – and involve multiple, complex, interrelated systems with many nuances. How these situations are addressed will dramatically influence the enterprise’s culture and performance, as well as family relationships now and into the future.

Human Resources in the Family Business shows how HR practices can help family firms achieve their values-driven goals as a family and a business. Filled with case studies, frameworks and practical tools, this book addresses how to successfully anticipate and manage people issues and opportunities including:

  • How to maximize the value of the HR function as a strategic business partner with family owners and business leaders.
  • How HR can build on a conscious culture of success from the family owners’ vision and values.
  • How to employ family members in the business in a way that works best for the family, business and individuals.
  • When and where HR should interface with the family and how that is best accomplished.
  • How to recruit, interview and hire the best talent, balancing the needs of both family and nonfamily members.
  • How to manage employee exits effectively, especially those of family members.
  • How to handle sensitive issues such as underperforming family employees, compensation, substance abuse, etc.

Perhaps more than in any other type of company, a thoughtful, holistic approach to human resources in the family business — and its continuous evolution — is a critical contributor to longterm success.

240 pages, hardcover published by Palgrave Macmillan. List price: $40

Hardcover books available from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Palgrave Macmillan

Praise for Human Resources in the Family Business:

“It is clear that highly engaged teams deliver significantly better results, yet it is challenging to create an engaged company culture.  Human Resources in the Family Business is an excellent step-by-step practical guide for any family business to take their team to a new level and achieve greater success.”
Robert Pasin, Chief Wagon Officer, Radio Flyer Inc.

“What a marvelous, insightful, and useful book about HR in family business. Every business or HR leader in a family business will savor this book. Ideas are timely, current, and relevant. These HR issues are often the crux of a family business and the David, Wendy, and Amy offer wise counsel.”
Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor of Business, University of Michigan and Partner, The RBL Group

“Families and their businesses are primarily composed of their human, intellectual, and social capitals. The ongoing growth and development of these capitals in family businesses are the primary concern of the HR departments of such firms. The authors of Human Resources in the Family Business offer us wisdom, grounded in long experience, on how to grow these capitals artfully toward the long term flourishing of the business and of the family that owns it.”
Jay Hughes, Jr, author of Family Wealth—Keeping it in the Family

“Valuable and transformative insights for families and professionals of family enterprise. Those moving from either Family or Business to Family and Business will greatly benefit from this book.”
James A. Burton, Chairman  PPI,  Board member Institute for Family Advisors

“Many implore that family businesses need to transition from paternalistic to professional and performance focused. This book inspires that this can be done AND that the family’s values and the business’s culture can be retained for distinct [competitive] advantage.”
John L. Ward, Professor at Kellogg Center for Family Enterprises and Principal Emeritus of The Family Business Consulting Group

“From recruiting and onboarding to culture and exit, Human Resources in the Family Business guides readers through the intricacies of human resources in family firms. While equipping HR managers with the fundamentals of family business, the authors beautifully provide methods to execute effective HR practices in those contexts. Filled with practical tools, this is a text that will inspire family businesses to persistently reach for more.”
Judi Cunningham, Family Enterprise Advisor & Founder of the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors

“Whether your family business has an actual HR department or not, this book is a must-read for any family business leader — family member or not — who wants to maximize the contribution of their people. Not only will it help you take a more strategic view of human resources, but it’s also filled with practical tips that you can start using right away.”
Andrew Libman, Director and President of The Libman Company

“Besides being an excellent technical resource for general HR management, Ransburg, Sage-Hayward, and Schuman have provided compelling evidence and impactful tools for families in business to not just manage, but to also leverage their unique human resource dynamics. A must read for any family controlled enterprise!”
Allen S. Taylor, Chair, Canadian Association of Family Enterprise (CAFE)

About the Authors

David Ransburg, a consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group, has a rare combination of expertise in both business and psychology. He brings strong relationship skills, deep business knowledge, and broad-based experience in executive assessment, coaching, and group facilitation to his family enterprise engagements. With over a dozen years of business experience in industries such as real estate, financial services, marketing, and manufacturing, he is adept at strategic as well as financial analysis of business opportunities. Additionally, David has been formally trained in interpersonal relationships and systems theory to motivate individuals, resolve intra-organizational conflict, and build an effective team-oriented organization. David received a BA in Economics from Stanford University, USA, an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University.

Wendy Sage-Hayward is a consultant at the Family Business Consulting Group. She has 25 years of experience working with business leaders, family firms, and boards. Wendy has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and recently completed a post graduate program in the Neuroscience of Leadership at Middlesex University, UK. She is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business where she leads programs for both business families as well as their advisors in the Business Families Centre. Wendy teaches for Executive Education at the Sauder School of Business where she leads two senior management training programs in facilitation and coaching. Previously Wendy was faculty at the Institute for Corporate Directors where she taught board dynamics in the Director’s Education Program.

Amy M. Schuman, a principal consultant of the Family Business Consulting Group, works with family businesses on creating governance systems to meet the demands of increased complexity across the generations. She also has expertise in helping families with leadership development, communication skills and team building. Amy was the founding facilitator of the Next Generation Leadership Institute at the Loyola University Chicago Family Business Center. Amy is the co-author of several book including Family Education for Business Owning Families and Nurturing the Talent to Nurture the Legacy: Career Development in the Family Business. Amy has presented at many university family business centers, The University of British Columbia Family Enterprise Advisors Program, YPO and WPO events, the Family Firm Institute Conference and the Family Business Network. and is adjunct faculty at the Center for Family Enterprise at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

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