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.

Entering the Family Business – Working Your Way Up or Landing in Management

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…