Today I would like to touch on the subject of conflict in family firms.
What is conflict? The answer sometimes looks rather innocent; ‘an active disagreement between people with opposing opinions or principles’. However, we know that if a disagreement is not resolved early enough it tends to become more complicated; this can become worse when more individuals or entities become involved. Quite often disputes resulting from conflicts end up in a way that the parties involved may not have wished for initially.
Conflict between family members in family firms does occur; it gets more complicated as the number of family members grows. The most common reasons for such conflict relate to money, disagreement on roles and responsibilities, company direction and company management. Inter-generational factors also play an important role in this mix of reasons.
It is important that conflict in family firms is managed effectively to a level that does not cause major disruptions in the family and the business. If this is not done on a continuous basis both the family and the business may face serious and irreversible setbacks.
The healthiest way for resolving conflict is by creating mechanisms for frequent and positive communication and actually engaging in such communication among all the parties involved with a positive mindset and an atmosphere of mutual respect. Very often families need an experienced and trusted advisor to facilitate this process.