Hazing in the Family Business
I’ll never forget my first day in our family business when I had completed my morning shift and took a break for lunch. The warehouse manager asked me if my father was going to take me out for the customary steak lunch for all new hires. I went upstairs, walked into my father’s office and told him I was ready to go for my steak lunch. He looked at me with a confused stare and told me he never takes a new employee out for lunch on the first day. His confused stare was only matched by the laughter of the warehouse manager when I returned to my post after lunch. I realized I had been hazed by the warehouse manager as part of the ritual for new employees.
What job positions do family members assume when they first enter the family business?
Some of us come in at the bottom of the organization chart in a line position and work their way up, while others land into management level positions and take control more quickly. Here are some of the differences: More…
by Ernesto J. Poza
Three brothers run a retail chain catering to a well-defined market niche. The business is people intensive, and customer service is very important. Competition is fierce in their industry. As a rule, profit margins are low. New products and product/service combinations do offer opportunities for healthier profit margins. The brothers have grown the business four-fold in their twenty years of leadership and are now preparing for the transition to a third generation of owner-managers.
The next generation is better educated and has worked outside the family business in well-regarded Fortune 500 companies. Motivation to professionalize the firm, update its managerial practices and ramp-up the growth curve is high. The third generation is ready to use organizational and human resource systems to support increased teamwork, delegation with accountability as well as a more strategic approach to the business’ market niche.
The family is now larger. Each of the brothers has three children, expanding the potential pool of successors to nine. To prune the owning family tree, the brothers entered into a buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance. It specifically states that next generation family members need to be full-time employee/managers to qualify for ownership. This is, briefly, the business and family context in which succession is presently taking place in many family-owned businesses. More…