Sunday, November 28, 2010
A few days ago, I had lunch with a lawyer who says he has developed a new specialty: arbitrating and mediating dysfunctional family businesses. Here’s what I learned.
1. The normal problems that arise in disputes among co-owners multiply when you add the family element to the mix.
2. When the founding generation turns the business over to the children, it should be very specific in stating who gets what with respect to money and control.
3. When the founding generation steps away from the business, it should really step away and not interfere.
3. Young people who want to work in this field should take lots of psychology courses.
Although these insights are fairly obvious, they are worth considering at this holiday time of the year when many people spend more time with family members and hope for the ideal family—something out of a 1950s TV show. In my opinion, all families are at least somewhat dysfunctional, and probably the larger the family, the greater the possibility of a lot of disfunctionality. So don’t expect the impossible. Enjoy what you have.