I am constantly being introduced to family business owners who are just “winging it” with respect to preparing their family members to assume greater responsibility, contribute to productivity and ultimately assume a command and control position. The net result of “winging it” is that the family member generally floats around without genuine accountability and never makes life complicated for managers who would otherwise be held responsible for his/her development. Unfortunately, the average aspiring family successor entering a business has no more clue as to what they will encounter, what is expected of them and what respect, rights, compensation, benefits, etc they should anticipate than a naïve freshman entering college.

Consequently, entry of a family member into a business is typically accompanied by a reasonably high level of wonderment, confusion and anxiety which I think we would all agree are not common bedfellows with learning, growth and productivity.

The solution to the “winging it” mentality is simple on paper: identify a team of people to develop, monitor and periodically refine and update a successor development curriculum.

 This team should consist of:

  1.  The successor candidate
  2.  The working parent or senior officer, 
  3.  A mentor for the successor who is not a supervisor
  4.  An independent Certified Succession Planner™

The current supervisor of the organizational department that the successor candidate is working in at the time, changing periodically as the successor candidate moves through the various departments.

This five member team is responsible for confirming the family member employee’s optimum role and developing a plan for gaining the education and on-the-job experience that is needed to productively pursue that role.

In best case scenarios, the team oversees the family member’s preparation to join the business for up to two or three years prior as well as their development after employment for up to ten years tenure with the business.  However, the term of the Family Member Employee Development Team would depend on the successor candidate’s desire to work in the business. For example, the “Team” would work for a shorter period of time if the family member employee only aspires to have a dependable well paying job without the heavy stress of leadership vs. someone that wants to achieve a senior management role or a family member who ultimately wants the corner office. 

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