Within a family business, there are many roles and responsibilities that the children can assume when dealing with both family and business matters. This is a great way to build working relationships across the next generation of family and business leaders.
It’s often the case that parents will ‘protect’ their children from the various responsibilities and challenges that go hand-in-hand with running a business and raising a family. The rationale is usually one along the lines of allowing their children to live their own lives and find their own career paths.
And, also, at times, because they are felt to be ‘too young’ and ‘inexperienced’ — even though they may be of adult age. It’s sometimes challenging for parents to recognise that their children have grown up and often the trigger for this acknowledgement is when they are married or partnered up and have children themselves.
But this can lead to many missed opportunities to invest in and encourage your children in a manner that will underpin family unity across the next generation. Think ahead to the time in which you are no longer around, and your businesses and wealth have transitioned across to the next generation.
The cornerstone that underpins the success of this transition to the next generation is their ability to communicate well and openly with other family members. There is a wide range of issues that they potentially need to take responsibility for and, in doing so, must be able to consider the needs and views of other family members. This will vary greatly from family to family, depending on the size of the family and the businesses and wealth that has been transitioned.
But here is a quick list of potential issues they may have to overcome:
- The management of the businesses, dividend policy and reinvestment and growth.
- Managing a wealth portfolio in a manner that meets the varying needs of all the family.
- Leading the philanthropy/giving component of the family group.
- Ensuring that the welfare and needs of all family members are proactively addressed, including education, housing, health, and ageing needs.
- Sustaining activities that will underpin family connection and unity.
- Investing in the development of the next generation of leaders.
These are roles that are likely best undertaken by different family members, as the personal traits and skills required in each can be quite different.
The time to begin to engage your children in these various roles, build capability and connections across the family is now — while you are still leading the family. This is the best time to invest in that future capability and unity.