Family Business? What you can do to make sure the kids run the business properly

Written By Steps To Faculty Published July 8th, 2010

When children are involved, things can sometimes get messy because children are family and tensions within the family cannot be easily left at the workplace like they can in other instances. If your children are going to assume a leadership position at the business you created, then you have to keep a few things in mind; below are three steps you should always follow before you let the kids assume executive responsibilities at work.

Step 1 give them smaller projects and build from there

As with any other situation, you cannot just give someone the arduous task of running a business – especially a business in a complex industry. If you are dealing with your children, the thing you really want to do is to give them small projects to start and then build slowly from there. Keep things simple to start, and then add a new wrinkle to the mix every little while – such as every month or, if you feel they are up to it, every week. Ideally, the grooming process should begin early on (when they are pre-adolescent or adolescent) because then things can proceed at a leisurely pace without the mad rush that would otherwise result.

Step 2 Evaluate them objectively

Remember: your child is also an employee and employees need to be held to standards. Always make sure that you have a set of objective criteria in place that can evaluate their performance with an objectivity that you cannot; this usually means that your criteria must be as prescriptive and detailed as possible so that subjectivity in evaluation is curtailed as much as possible. What how they do things, see how they respond to challenges, and evaluate how efficient they are; when you see the problems, work to correct them – and if they fail to show a capacity for learning from mistakes, then perhaps they are not the people to be running certain components of the organization.

Step 3 Keep the feedback loop as tight as possible

You cannot be around your children at all times at the workplace because you have work of your own to do; however, you can certainly keep the feedback loop tight by having a trusted employee or manager watch them discreetly so that you have a sense of how things are coming along. Know where they are falling short and offer them help and guidance around the dinner table or at the next family get-together. You will be glad you did.

We all want our children to discharge their duties effectively; we all want them to achieve success and, if possible, to lead the company to greater heights (if that is what they want). However, no one can just be thrown into any leadership position: they have to learn the ropes and that only comes by giving them steadily increasing responsibilities and by making sure they are held to the same standards as anyone else.

Roger Due

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