Democracy in the Workplace

by Dr. Edward Lawler, III
University of Southern California

This call goes out to family business owners, managers and employees:Get involved in each other’s business!Read on and keep two ideas in mind.

  • One, any employee may have secret talents and ambitions that can help grow your company.  
  • Two, in the increasingly complicated work place, it becomes more and more difficult to judge the worth of a worker.

Democracy in the work place might sound like a lofty ideal based more on ethics than economics, but motivation expert and USC Business professor Ed Lawler has a formula for companies that may translate into results you can take to the bank (And it can help smooth out owner-successor relationships, too). More…

Dynamic Tension: Or, You’re Standing on My Foot!

Dynamic Tension: UMass
Or, You’re Standing on My Foot!

by Ira Bryck
Director, UMass Family Business Center

The term “dynamic tension” was first developed by early exercise fanatic Jack La Lane, describing how muscles meet resistance with his particular fitness equipment.Rock historians later borrowed the phrase to discuss the partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney; dynamic tension between them was the factor, aside from musical skill, that empowered their success as a team.The catalytic reaction of their different energies and personality styles, that one would imagine could only result in bickering and failure, created a product impossible to predict.But the notion that one works best with a conflict free colleague/clone, is to ignore how the world works to produce something bigger than the sum of the parts.

This is significant in light of the research that highlights that some two thirds of family owned businesses that will be transitioning power to thenext generation (some say half of all family companies within the next decade)–either a parent to children or siblings to cousins–will seriously consider a shared leadership form of governance.We live in a culture that values egalitarian rule–our president is no king, today’s model parent is more coach/mentor than ironclad royalty–it is no wonder that the assumption that a business requires a single leader is being questioned among siblings and cousins in business. More…