You might think conflict in family business is predominately around business performance. Wrong. At the core, it’s most commonly about the ‘people’ side of things: ineffective communication, and not recognising the different needs, interests & capability of family members.
Evolutionary psychology tells us that we behave more altruistically toward the relatives with whom we share the greatest genetic overlap, and more with our maternal than paternal relatives. This means as the family group grows deeper generationally, relatives are less likely to let an issue go because it’s a family member.
In this framework, blended families pose a challenge because of the lack of genetic overlap. This is even more difficult because legislation has failed to keep pace with the times, leading to increasing conflict and litigation.
Conflict can be mitigated by focusing on principles rather than people, and staying away from making decisions (or setting policy) with particular people in mind. It’s best to develop the principles before you need them – that way family members can agree on them without the bias of a specific situation.
Change is hard for most families, so framing ideas as extensions of existing ones rather than new ones can reduce push back. They are easier to accept when perceived as evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Consider This: What are the most common sources of conflict in your family business? Do you notice any patterns around these conflicts? Do you have forums where conflict can be aired and dealt with?
Actionable Generational Wealth Succession
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