As a member of the next generation (“a next gener”), working in the family business, you often feel like Prince Charles awaiting a decision from your mother to ascend the throne.
Most “next geners” have heard the comment from founders—“someday this business will all be yours”. After making the decision to pursue a career in the family business, a clear pathway to achieve this goal is often not obvious.
In my discussions with founders, they often indicate that the “next geners” are fitting into the family business; however they are not demonstrating a desire to take over the reins of the family business.
On the other hand, the “next geners” are indicating that they are uncomfortable raising transitional issues with the founders. They don’t want to give the impression that they are “pushing the founders out”. This impasse is obviously created by the lack of communication from both parties.
In my opinion, the “next geners” must develop a career strategic plan to clearly identify their abilities to prepare themselves for a leadership role in the family business. This strategic plan should include the following:
Education and Experience
- Ensure that you bring to your first job an appropriate level of education/experience.
- Learn communication skills through organizations like Toastmasters.
- Enrol in business courses to improve your business acumen.
- Ascertain that your new position is meaningful to the business and not a position created for you by the founders.
- Ensure that you are provided with a detailed job description and how you will be held accountable.
- Ensure that you are provided with a mentor—–not dad or mom.
- Gain experience in all areas of the business.
- Come early and leave late.
- Be prepared to do whatever is required. Don’t ask anyone to perform a task you wouldn’t do.
- Build respect from all employees.
- Ensure you express loyalty to the family business.
- Do not discuss family matters with other employees.
- Do not take privileges that are not available to other employees.
- Take constructive criticism as a learning experience.
Finally, demonstrate to the founders that, although the road to leadership is arduous, you will do whatever it takes to proof you are capable and ready to assume the reins of the business.