The Family-Business Soap Opera Excerpt:
Edward Rosenfeld was president of International Furniture Rentals in Hawthorne until it was sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Today, he serves as a consultant to other family owned businesses and has seen plenty of role confusion in them. “If there are other family members in the business, their relationships with the founder are fraught with emotion. The founder may not always be aware of when he or she is functioning as father or mother, boss, or investor.” He adds, “They are often fearful of conflict and so are frozen in inertia or are caught in a conflict that is destructive to the business.”
As Rosenfeld explains, “Any business has to be able to recruit and retain good employees. You have to recruit a family member into the business with open eyes.” After all, “One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is creating a nice situation for your children, but if that’s the only criterion for hiring a family member, the other employees won’t respect that person.” In addition to an advisory board, he recommends a mentoring system, where a non-family employee works with the new hire to ensure equitable treatment. “The family member shouldn’t be at the whim and mercy of their parent,” he says.
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