Family Business Conflicts: How To Solve Them
BY: VESELINA DZHINGAROVA ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02, 2018
Having a family business can be one of the most satisfying things in life but it can also be the source of your greatest headache. Business aspects aside, family members have a tendency to bicker, disagree and put each other down regularly. When this behavior is taken to the workplace, it can be a disaster and lead to serious family business conflict. Does this mean you cannot have a successful and peaceful family business? No, there are plenty of successful family businesses such as Walmart, SC Johnson, Ford and many others that people do not know.
Sources of family business conflicts
● Compensation of various family members working in the company. Everybody feels entitled to make the decisions of remuneration because they are family.
● Decisions about who is employed in the company and who is not because everybody wants to work there.
● Failure of management to consult the rest of the family before making decisions.
● Performance of some family members where some work really hard and others slack off and feel entitled.
● Absence of a succession plan when the family patron dies without saying who will take over the leadership of the business and the family.
● Mixing personal and business funds and lack of accountability.
● Lack of employment agreements so people do whatever they want.
How to solve family business conflicts
One of the reasons why solving family conflicts is so difficult is because nobody wants to listen to the others’ point of view. There is usually a lot of bickering and talking over each other and nobody shuts-up long enough to listen. Active listening is the solution to all conflicts especially family business conflicts. Here are some skills to active listening;
● Everybody should be given a chance to talk and be heard without the others interrupting him or her. Make an effort to hear and understand their point-of-view as they explain and seek more information from them about what they are saying as opposed to disagreeing.
● Remember, you are a family first before you are business partners. The family values and bond should not be trampled upon in the name of the business and people must always remember they will always be family and treat each other as such.
● Create rules of behavior. Conduct business meetings the same way huge corporations conduct theirs. There should be rules about how one can or cannot behave. Arguing, ridicule, insults and sarcasm must not be allowed in the meetings.
● Look for external help. Many times it’s hard for the family to come to a consensus when tempers are high and there is a level of disrespect involved. In such cases, you can use an external third party to help clear the air.
Business Law experts at McQuarrie emphasize the need for family businesses to get their company documents and policies in order to reduce conflicts. These professionals are highly trained to take care of the agreements, succession matters, business planning and sale preparation. After all, it is their business to help you transact yours without a hitch.
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