Perspectives from ISB

In any family business, conflict is not only inevitable but at times healthy as well. However it should be managed, such that it does not escalate and destroy the business foundations. A recent article in Forbes, spells out three simple strategies to maintain peace:

  • Establish a conflict management forum: Setting up and holding regular family council meetings to deal with family issues and shareholders’ meetings to deal with ownership issues can provide a great way for owners to work through the dynamics of these potential sources of conflict.
  • Keep generational differences in mind: It’s important to be clear on precisely who does what in the business and make sure their roles match their skills. The next generation should be involved and encouraged to learn about the business and its operations as early as possible in order to provide them with the necessary experience and to instill a sense of commitment to the family business.
  • Be clear with succession intentions: Training, educating and mentoring the next generation is critical to reducing conflict when dealing with succession. Providing a clear and transparent plan for the future is necessary so that all members of the family are aware of the role they’ll play in the future of the business — whether that’s inside or outside the business.

Families that do business together grow together and in the process can achieve a solid relationship that can weather any storm. Family businesses come with a deeper, more complex network of relationships. Managing conflict is key not only for the survival of the business, but for the survival of the family itself.

Source: ‘How To Defuse Conflict In A Family Business’, Forbes, September 23, 2015

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