Selecting Advisory Board Members – How Important is Family Business Experience?

Textbook theory will advise you to resolve your family issues before forming an advisory board. It’s most commonly referred to as “keeping the family baggage out of the business.” Ideally this should happen, but in real-life it rarely does.

Experience shows us that family issues usually spill into the business and this is just part of being a family business. You should diminish these personal issues as much as possible, but don’t expect to eliminate them entirely.

Ideally we would like to keep advisory boards free of these issues. In reality many of the family issues are intertwined in the business and are the cause for many of the obstacles in implementing new initiatives and strategy. Even though the major topics will focus on non-family issues, inevitably you will discover that family issues will creep in often as hidden issues. Many advisory boards are setup because the family has difficulty communicating, reaching consensus, and afraid of hurting each other’s feelings.

Understanding that we need to deal with some of these family issues with the advisory board will influence the makeup and chemistry of the advisory board members.

Importance of Family Business Experience

In addition to selecting members who can bring some new skill or experience to the board, also consider bringing in members who may belong to other family businesses. Even though family issues will be a minor topic, it helps to have members with some background in family business to better relate and be more patient with the family.

Choosing board members with some family business experience can help.

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…