Family Businesses – Fertile Ground for Conflict

In any company, there’s going to be conflict; it’s a normal part of everyday business. When the business is a family business or some employees are family, the potential for disagreement increases. Dealing with the issue(s) can be more challenging in a family-run business because the stakes are higher. Personal relationships can be threatened, and keeping the problem at the office becomes a problem in itself.

Related Search: How to deal with Conflict in a Family Business
Issues can snowball in a family business situation because three areas of interest come into play– family issues, business issues, and ownership issues says Don Schwerzler, a U.S. family business expert in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in 7 Rules for Avoiding Conflicts of Interest in a Family Business. Swcherzler recommends seeking out a mediator or consultant to help with family feuds.
A business coach with expertise in working with families can help with those difficult conversations and teach skills to family members so they can collaborate and work together.
Here are some helpful tips on avoiding havoc in family-owned businesses. Some of them are quite obvious, but it’s surprising how often people make these mistakes leading to problems with family members and non-family employees.

  1. Don’t put a family member on the payroll who isn’t contributing to the business. Make sure everyone has a role and responsibilities are spelled out and are very clear, says Jane Hilburt-Davis, president of Cambridge-based Key Resources and co-author of Consulting to Family Businesses in 7 Rules for Avoiding Conflicts of Interest in a Family Business .
  2. Keep strict boundaries between family matters and business matters.
  3. Be honest with your employees – don’t keep it a secret that family members are involved in the company.
  4. Don’t play favorites with family employees over non-family employees.

Related Search: Effective Business Communication
In any relationship–work or personal—genuine and authentic communication helps to resolve issues or to prevent them in the first place. Having someone with the experience to teach or guide family members in a business to communicate in ways that solve problems, not create them, can be the key to having a successful family-run company.
Photo Credit “David Castillo Dominici” Free Digital Photos.

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