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Resolving Conflict in Family Business

By Family Conflict ResolutionOctober, 2019March 18th, 20242 min read

When seeking to deal with conflict in family business, it is essential to understand the impact of the family dynamic on a business. Conflict in family business happens differently, therefore must be resolved differently.

Disputes within a family don’t escalate suddenly. They are often built on years of relationship sentiment that is latent or suppressed. The triggers for those conflicts can be the smallest thing, because they are just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The worst thing to do with family conflict is to suppress it, because it will only get worse with the passage of time.

These conflicts have a factual or financial component, as well as an emotional component, so both those aspects must be considered when seeking to resolve. Often, the emotional component is what is at the heart of the conflict.

A family is not a meritocracy. Family decisions have a very different basis than business decisions. When those two decision processes lead to different outcomes, conflict is inevitable.

Having independent voices – around the board table, or generally advising the family – can be very helpful to unpack complex, multi-layered issues. They can also assist with the establishment of more formal (but not necessarily too formal) governance and dispute resolution processes.

Consider This: Can you see latent conflict in your family that is a ticking time bomb? How does your family usually deal with such things?

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Also published on LI as Resolving Conflict in Family Business.

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