Leave Nepotism Out of the Family Business

As the founder of The Succession Planning Roundtable, I get the privilege of identifying and emcee’ing the programming for these quarterly events.

Knowing how difficult family business succession can be, I invited Gary and Will Graham of Graham Personnel Services (GPS) to do a program titled,

Succession Planning for the S.O.B” …as in: Sons of Bosses…what were you thinking?

Their story was fascinating.  GPS didn’t just survive the succession plan with their father Gary Sr., they thrived, despite the sons buying the business right before the 2008 recession.  The business is flourishing.

As their story unfolded one key element stuck out.

There is no room for nepotism in a healthy, profitable business.

Gary put it like this, “A family business still has to be a business first.”

He couldn’t be more right. Over the years I have seen special treatment to family members cripple the potential of family owned businesses. I am impressed with the approach that Gary, Will and GPS take.  Here are 3 takeaways that if employed by other family owned businesses, could reap tremendous results:

  • Adopt a formality of respect. If parents and children are working together using titles like Mom or Dad should be left at home
  • It’s okay to not employ “other siblings” who are not a good fit for the business. Encourage them to find their own fit outside the business.
  • Performance, not bloodline should determine employment status

What areas does your family owned business need some revisions?