But the existence of such triangles often hides the instability of an egalitarian partnership. And when the triangle collapses – for example, an institutional trustee is seen as contradictory or unable to deal with the trade problems that have arisen – there is no one to cushion or arbitrate the conflict. What helps is to establish a clear mediation process that should be implemented when conflicts erupt or trust between partners erodes. But too often, the mediation process for family businesses is not fully thought out or strong enough to work. My brother Adam and I know all too well how important good communication is. Having co-founded and managed many successful businesses and even written two books together, Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs With Big Ideas and Small Business, Big Vision, we are no strangers to working together. Joseph A. Wolking is CEO of PennWell Publishing Company, a family-owned company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is not a family member.
PennWell, a business information company, publishes 37 international trade magazines, including Oil and Gas Journal, Solid State Technology and Laser Focus World. If all shareholders agree to continue to own, they must discuss the type of fraternal partnership they want and whether the right conditions are in place to make this partnership viable – that is, whether the combination of the family culture, the individual personalities and styles of each owner, and the economic program allows for such a partnership. The property had only one vote in the past – Buck`s voice. Now he has to learn four-part harmony – very quickly and in the most difficult circumstances. In the spring of 1997, I wrote an article in Family Business called “Deciphering Sibling Behavior” (see article library under www.familybusinessmagazine.com). Nine years later, the subject still resonates with family entrepreneurs. Building strong sibling partnerships is one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurial families. Once the board has appointed an interim manager with Millie`s approval, the real work begins. Let`s look at the needs of each of the three groups one by one: the owners, the family and the business. In the next part of the series, we will look at the third phase of growth of family businesses.
It all started when his older brother Geoff started and sold his first business at the age of 24. Little did Geoff know that he was inspiring his younger brother and sister to follow in his entrepreneurial footsteps. The family has now become larger and more diverse as family relationships become less interconnected as siblings start their own nuclear family. The company has also become relatively larger and more complex than it was in the beginning. Values are the foundation of family and corporate culture. They profoundly influence decisions and priorities. For example, while integrity and innovation are good values that can anchor a company, a company based on the core value of integrity may make different decisions than those that are guided by the core value of innovation. It is important that siblings agree on the values and have a common vision of the future direction of the company. Siblings should explain how their shared values affect their vision of family collaboration within the company and in any other common effort or priority they wish to pursue. “We need to figure out how to choose a successor for Buck without triggering big family feuds. You know everyone involved. We need to describe a process that allows us to get through this situation in one piece.
Otherwise, even if it is someone who is absolutely perfect for the job, the new president will fail. And it is we who will make this person fail. These problems go back a long way. One of the earliest stories of Western civilization is about brothers who got into trouble in the “family business.” Given this (ironic) case, it can be interesting. Choosing a new CEO should be a strategic workforce planning exercise, not a family dynamic. Bob Benson probably shouldn`t even be hired by Benson Electric. Any unskilled leader, especially one who is a family member, can have a demoralizing effect on other employees. Its presence there sends the wrong signal to the rest of the company and external stakeholders, including customers. Bob`s poor track record in previous jobs, lack of motivation and turnover in his departments tell it all. He has to go.
It`s important to discuss which employees have the most impact on the entire company and not focus too much on the sibling know-how silo used to support. Remember, it`s always about growing the business and what`s best for your partnership and your business as a whole. Be prepared to use this good communication to effectively decide what is best for everyone and move away from your ego. In the courtroom, there are differences in age, gender, birth order, family size, personality and relationship with parents. This scenario is common in all families, regardless of their social status or wealth. Once the battle is over, however, the family can be irretrievably broken forever. Cousins who will grow up without knowing their uncles, aunts or each other. In an interview with Crain`s Chicago Business, Sister Mary sums it up: “Clean up all the problems before you go into business together. You need a rock-solid relationship. Anything that is not resolved will get worse. We emphasize to the founders that siblings can manage their differences without their interference.
If siblings can`t work together in a unit, the solution shouldn`t be to keep them together. Investing in a weekend retreat with a facilitator who can introduce conflict management skills and interpret family dynamics can be an economic idea, especially if childhood scratches were large enough to smoulder in adulthood. .