“You do not need the best possible organization while you are alive; you need the best possible organization that can survive.”
Every family business faces challenges. Some are easily resolved, but others, especially those involving several family members, can take years to make headway on.
This is especially true when it comes to challenges related to change. Not only are personal identities more strongly tied to the operations of the company than in normal businesses; members are also exposed to issues of money, relationships and power that might otherwise be shielded behind the dual buffer of liquid assets and shareholders.
Overcoming ‘the Rut’
Surviving and thriving in the face of change is essential. However, many founders deal with inter-generational issues by instinctively tightening their grip on the business in an attempt to safeguard its long-term success.
In fact, a recent survey suggests that only 14% of Australian businesses have a documented plan to prepare and train their successors, with many leaders opting to carry out their responsibilities in the usual manner until they exit the company.
In an interview on Insights, Dr. Joseph Astrachan, who teaches family business at Kenneshaw State University, offers the following:
“Being the control freak, being the day-to-day manager, making sure nobody makes mistakes, works against your goals of developing a company that can out-survive you. You need people who are comfortable making mistakes and learning from them so they can develop and move forward. You do not need the best possible organization while you are alive; you need the best possible organization that can survive.”
Taking a step back allows you to see how your business operates without you, giving an opportunity to adjust the company structure, steady the ship and prepare the organisation for change.
It will breed trust, not only between you and your successor, but also between the successor and other employees at the company. If you allow your successor to handle business matters independently early on, family members will take note, sense a power shift taking place and be better prepared to take their lead once you hand over the reins.