Random Thoughts on Working with Non-Family Executives

Hiring non-family executives is only the start to a successful experience. If your effort stops here, you risk losing them and creating a significant disruption in your family business.

Helping the non-family executive feel more comfortable

Non-family executives may be just as new to the family business culture as you are working for the first time with an outsider in the inner family circle. As leaders of family businesses, we have always made the key decisions and now for the first time we are allowing someone else to participate in our decision-making.  This can be a difficult habit to break.

  • Make them feel more inclusive through active participation in meetings-keep them in the loop
  • Decision-Making-not only keeping them informed of key decisions, but genuinely involved
  • Accept their advice-regularly not considering their new ideas may make them go silent and shut down
  • Set the example for work effort – don’t fuel the stereotype of nepotism
  • Locate their office in proximity to other family members, if possible even next to the owners

Identify why they want to join a family business

Usually non-family executives are seeking opportunities they were lacking in their previous job position. Keep aware of these reasons to be sure they are happening. This is truly an advantage for recruiting in family businesses.

The usual suspects:

  • Needing to be heard-Listen to them. Sound easy? It is.
  • Recognition-praise them and make others aware of their accomplishments
  • Experience-encourage them to share ideas from their earlier work experience
  • Contribution-provide them the opportunity to make a difference in a smaller company

The mindset and culture in your family business needs to change when you bring in non-family executives. They are coming into a middle layer between the family and the other employees.  They may not expect a high level of attention, but still deserve greater guidance than family members.