Help your non-family executives to succeed
What can you do to create a smooth working relationship between your family ownership group and your key non-family managers?
Here are some suggestions offered at a Transitions Canada 2018 panel session entitled “Leaders, Mentors and Confidants: Tapping the Expertise of Non-Family Executives.”
Participating in the panel were Andrew Wexler, non-family president and CEO of Herschend Enterprises; Peter Willson, fourth-generation chairman and CEO of Willson International; and John Neretlis, principal of consulting firm Next Gen Anesti and a married-in member of the Rowntree business family.
• Clarify roles. It must be understood that it’s OK for a non-family executive to say “no” to family members who try to interfere with the executive’s role.
• Create a family liaison. Having a single point of contact between the executive and the family will limit the executive’s exposure to contentious family issues.
• Develop family governance. Families who have structures and processes for managing their issues help their non-family executives to succeed.
• Stay on top of noise and spin. Non-family executives should be proactive in reaching out to the family liaison when family dynamics start to percolate.
• Be aware that this is the executive’s career. The executive has been hired to do a job within the organization. If the family interferes, the executive will leave to avoid harm to their career.
• Provide education on both sides. The family and the executive must undergo a learning process. The family must learn proper interaction with the executive; in turn, the executive must learn the family’s goals and expectations for their business.
• Build trust. Non-family executives and the family must establish a trusting relationship.