When family members join the business, the emotional landscape changes. Any imperfections in intra-family communication, respect, and/or patience are exasperated by business expectations, nuances, and pressures.
Even the closest and most balanced families find themselves struggling with crap from what appears to be never-ending sources. If it’s not concern over the capacity or development of family member successors it could be the motivation and retention of insecure or frustrated key managers. Dealing with family issues such as sibling rivalry or whining by immature family members, can suck out your enthusiasm leaving you empty for those fun and exciting creative aspects of business ownership.
If “the crap” is becoming a major downer, finding the motivation to pursue succession becomes a function of reminding yourself WHY.
- Why you took on the challenge of allowing family members to be employed
- Why you care and thought about “Seeking Succession” versus just selling out.
Start by sitting down and writing out your purpose and vision for your business, the involvement of family members, and your long-term succession goals. Be honest and articulate your goals and the reason why you are, or you should be willing to withstand a season of petty crap. If you don’t have a good reason or if there is little to no hope that your children could participate as a member of a succession team, rethink what you are doing. Keep in mind, not only is your suffering unnecessary, but you could also be eroding the value of your business. Recognizing this potential double negative may be justification for changing direction and relieving yourself of significant frustration and stress. Family member employees are either succession assets or liabilities, never neutral. Your business’ prolonged exposure to liabilities comes at a grievous price of both business value and family harmony.
Assuming the process of documenting “Your Reason” for involving family members and Seeking Succession motivates you, review it as regularly as your circumstances call for to revitalize your enthusiasm. To help maintain motivation, share your purpose with challenging family members and employees and ask for their feedback. This process provides those creating challenges the opportunity to reconcile inappropriate behavior and express support for your goal. For family members who continue to create challenges, sharing your purpose also clearly communicates to them you are aware of their challenges and are potentially getting weary of their behavior.
If applicable, be sure to mention to all involved, a reason for involving family and Seeking Succession is to avoid selling the business in the event of your death, disability, or retirement. Specifically, convey to problematic family members, if your life continues to be a bitch, the plan could change, and their security within the family business plan could be in jeopardy. To key managers and employees, who are creating challenges, let them know their cooperation and support of your succession initiative forthrightly promote their career security that would otherwise go up in flames if you sold the business.
Hopefully, through clearly identifying and communicating your driving purpose for the business, you will find clarity, direction, and encouragement to reaffirm that the crap you are enduring is potentially worth the long-term reward.