One of the benefits of a family business is that it can provide employment and career opportunities for family members. As employees, family members will often share common values, goals and objectives and have a longer term view.
While in a non-family business, it is assumed management appoints the best talent possible for specific positions. While it is likely the business owner is highly skilled, it is not necessarily the case that the family member appointed to a job is the most qualified or a high performer. In some cases family members may have been appointed for other reasons.
Family businesses are large employers and do employ non-family members. As family businesses grow and develop, they can find it necessary to fill gaps in the organisation. They often recruit experienced professionals, who will, supervise or become the ‘boss’ of a family member. If not handled well, this can result in management problems.
E.L Blue has worked with a number of clients in this situation and has crafted different solutions to match the different goals of the owners. Usually this involves how the next generation take up positions in the business.
Get Qualified and Experience
In one case, the children had different interests, one son was technical while another more commercial. While young, they were exposed to the business, but the father / CEO was not keen for the children to take up positions unless they were qualified.
Both children attended post secondary education and gained experience outside the ‘family’ business. They only took up positions in the ‘family’ business once this was completed.
At this point E.L Blue integrated the children into the company’s talent management program. The children had access to training and career opportunities, but neither were ‘given’ positions they were not qualified to take. The children were considered / assessed for senior management positions and to possibly to succeed the father / CEO. The talent management program, provided cross functional experiences to round out qualifications.
This approach offered the children the opportunity to grow into a leadership position if they had the desire. While the business had adequate leadership depth to be an going concern if they did not.
Mentor and Coach
In another more traditional situation, family members appointed to positions and learned on the job. These positions were part of well established functions, so performance was not a concern.
As the business grew more complex, E.L Blue’s HRBP recognised that the incumbent family members did not have the experience and capability to manage the function to meet the business goals.
To address this, E.L Blue’s HRBP developed a strategy to address these shortcomings.
It was critical that senior management and the owners understood the capability needs for the businesses success. E.L Blue’s HRBP conducted a capability assessment to identify skill and capacity gaps identified. Replacing family members was not possible, so E.L Blue’s proposed a strategy to develop capacity within the existing staffing.
E.L Blue recruited a recently retired ‘industry expert / manager’ to join the team. Their credibility in the industry meant they were accepted quickly and their new initiatives welcomed. E.L Blue worked with the ‘expert / manager’ to fill the capacity gaps with processes, training and discrete coaching for the incumbents.
This allowed the business to attain a new level of professionalism, while developing the competence of incumbent family members.
Family members working in a business provide fantastic benefits to the business, however a well conceived and executed strategy will deliver a better business outcome as the business will have talent individuals in the right positions.
Talk to E.L Blue to take your HR management to a higher level.