What Is the Best Way to Approach Training Your Employed Family Members?

A family business is an inherently volatile environment due to the combination of the emotion of family with the cold reality of business accountability, creating frustrations on the part of all family members.

The keys to effective family management are respect, communication and consistent accountability. Family members must be respected for who they are, not who you think they are or who you want them to be. Communication is not something you can take for granted. With family members, there is infinite opportunity for hazardous assumptions. Therefore, your management success will be highly dependent upon a deliberate communication process that assures the effective exchange of feelings in both directions.

Accountability is a potential byproduct of both respect and communication. Accountability shows respect, in that it expresses that you value the involvement and contribution of family members. Accountability can only come when expectations and consequences are clearly communicated. Moreover, accountability is a personal commitment that requires the self discipline to express that your expectations will be met or there will be consequences. Without this accountability, family (and non-family who observe you compromising your values) will behave in a manner that they think will gain your respect and displace your expectations with their own.

Here Are Some Helpful Tips:

  • If at all possible, avoid personally managing and training any family member. Sleeping on a bed of nails or walking on hot coals is usually more gratifying.
  • If your organization is large enough, identify a strong manager to mentor and supervise family members. Give these managers the authority to hold them accountable.
  • Limit your involvement. Maintain a sense of what is happening through regular progress reports.
  • Avoid entertaining your relative’s “job gripes” during family fellowship. Meet individually with each family member and the supervisor regularly to hear the feedback, and always support the authority of the supervisor.
  • Keep in mind that family members must learn how to be employees in order for them to ever learn how to be good managers. Promote the “chain of accountability” and do not allow them to take shortcuts by packing your ear with emotional pleas.

What Is A Successor Development Curriculum? 

This is a well-defined, 5-year training curriculum that is specific to each family member’s needs and goals. The curriculum is developed by your mentoring executive manager and/or team and The Family Business Resource Center staff. This curriculum is updated and revised on an annual basis, and will entail quarterly performance reviews, stated expectations and benchmarks required for advancement and accountability. This curriculum will facilitate and guide your mentoring managers in the development and training of your family members, establishing defined relationships, expectations, goals, performance requirements and measures of accountability to maximize their performance and achievement.

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Successor Preparation

NextGen leaders can feel like they are stuck between and rock and a hard spot.  Working to fulfill expectations of leadership as well as making their mark on the organization to earn respect.  Click the following links for more drill-down resources on Successor Preparation.

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