Family Business Transitions
When the owner and founder of a large company was preparing to retire, he had a series of important decisions to make. Two of his four children worked in the business he’d spent the past 35 years building, and it was time to plan for a leadership transition to one of them. Which child should take the reins? Was either ready? What about the possible interests of the other two? Making the wrong decision could mean the end of a legacy – and possibly damage the family itself.
Every major leadership transition leaves an organization at risk for crisis, and family enterprises are especially vulnerable. To help this father create a succession plan for his business, we worked with him to develop a success profile, one relevant for both today’s and tomorrow’s business challenges. We then conducted customized assessments and established development plans for each of his sons and daughters. Ultimately, one emerged as the strongest, most interested candidate. Peace was established, and a capable next-generation leader took the helm.
For decades, Vantage has helped family-owned businesses plan for leadership continuity by providing objective, thoughtful insights around the most crucial and sensitive of people decisions.
Ensuring the Success of Each Family Member
Working with a family-owned business means working with mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, spouses and cousins. It also involves understanding what it takes to thrive in today’s complex business environment. Supporting these deep, personal relationships requires care, insight, and finesse. As business psychologists, we have the experience and expertise to partner with family businesses to help ensure successful transitions. Our partnerships with family businesses involve a combination of the following services:
Defining Leadership Requirements
A thorough review of your business needs now and into the future is the first step in understanding the skills, values, and competencies that are required to lead the family enterprise for generations to come. We partner with family business to build success profiles that guides decision-making.
Assessing the Rising Generation
After we understand what’s required for success, relevant stakeholders are tapped to understand the strengths, aspirations, and development opportunities of next-generation family members. Our assessment approach provides rigor and objectivity to an otherwise tricky process subject to inadvertent bias.
From large-scale programs providing leadership coaching to an entire generation, to working with a single individual to shore up gaps, we help family members prepare to take on bigger roles in the business. We also work with family offices to ensure our efforts are seamlessly tied to existing plans and efforts and we can partner with the business to identify and match mentors and developmental initiatives to individual needs.
Assisting Leaders from Outside the Family
External leaders from outside the family also require support, and their success depends on a clear understanding of the landscape. It can be a particular challenge to manage family members and the process of onboarding into a family business is no easy task. An independent resource can be invaluable.
Our work with family enterprises is broad and spans numerous assignments, each with features as unique as the family itself. We have consulted to family-led executive teams and are attuned to the singular challenges posed by balancing family dynamics with company leadership needs. We also have experience working with organizations led by multiple families and helping them identify and align leadership direction. We’ve coached 3rd & 4th generation family members in large national businesses, assisted leadership transitions between generations, and provided leadership assessment and development for many other family businesses. We have counseled clients during times of transition from family management to non-family management.
Our Founding Partner, Carl Robinson, is on the CEO Advisory Board for the Family Office Exchange (FOX), and our team has developed a national reputation for our pioneering work in this area.
Across a wide variety of privately-held businesses in various states of their maturity, we’ve come to understand and appreciate the complexity that exists at the intersection of family and business.
We are happy to provide references for this service upon request. Please contact us to learn more.