In a family business, bringing up the next generation of leaders can be difficult and a politically-charged endeavor. It’s crucial to get it right if you want your business to survive and grow successfully. To help ease the transition, here are seven tips for developing the next generation of leaders.

1. Make sure the next generation of leaders learn all aspects of the business. From working in the warehouse to packing orders, this will allow them to integrate with other employees and learn the nuances of the company.

2. Give them a chance to earn respect. As family members pass through areas of the organization, they have the opportunity to gain respect for their ability, knowledge, work ethic, and other contributions, increasing the likelihood of a seamless transition.

3. Hold them to a higher standard. Don’t allow them to come in late, leave early, or otherwise take advantage of being family members. Even family businesses – or especially family businesses – have the right to put in place a set of criteria for employment. Challenge them and make it clear that you expect more of them than you do of other employees.

4. Don’t hire family members if you’re not willing to fire them. You never want employees saying, ”if they weren’t family, they would have been fired by now.” Family members who aren’t a good fit will generally reveal themselves, but it’s up to you to trust your intuition and do your part to protect your company’s culture and profitability.

5. Require family members to work elsewhere first. Doing so gives them a chance to work for others and provide the valuable outside experience they can bring to the family business later. Time away provides the family member with the opportunity to clarify whether or not he or she wants to return to the family business. If they want a different lifestyle than what your business can offer, you should find out sooner rather than later.

6. Put the right people in the right place. Provide formal training in areas where they need it. Evaluate performance and do the best thing for your business and your family. Putting people in positions where they are not qualified could cause your business to implode.

7. Know that it may not work out. As much as you’d like your children to join the family business, it may not be the best option for them or your business. While leaving employment in the family business is never an easy choice, if it is thought out and handled with grace, it can lead to stronger relationships and a better professional path for the exiting member.

For more information on developing the next generation of leaders, listen to our podcast episode here.

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