Ownership change affects family dynamics

By Otis Baskin

When families put all their faith in “family ties,” they overlook how the complexity of ownership change —and, sometimes, basic human nature—might affect family dynamics.

In its best iteration, a family enterprise benefits from the presence of trust, cohesiveness of familial bonds, shared goals and collaborative decision making. But in times of succession, these attributes can fall by the wayside.

While it may seem intuitive that “communication” is the answer, that often only scratches the surface of deeply ingrained resentment and bitterness. In and of itself, communication is not a business strategy but rather a tactic to implement a strategy. Thoughtful continuity planning doesn’t attempt to “talk through” barriers; it recognizes the reality of their existence and factors them into plans.

Continuity plans must address not only how business leadership will change, but also how ownership and decision making will change.

Most important, there should be buy-in to the terms of any ownership change or executive transition.


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