Are your chil­dren re­ally com­mit­ted?

But how do we gal­va­nize fam­ily mem­ber com­mit­ment? That is a tough ques­tion that con­tin­ues to bother busi­ness own­ers es­pe­cially those whose age range from 60 on­wards.

Sun.Star Cebu - - BUSINESS - ENRIQUE SORIANO eso­ri­ano@won­gad­vi­

Or are they just work­ing to please you? When ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber is fully com­mit­ted, it sends a strong mes­sage to every­one to put the in­ter­ests of the fam­ily busi­ness first be­fore their own. For

founders/own­ers, fam­ily mem­ber com­mit­ment gives them a cer­tain level of self-assurance that the busi­ness will be in good hands when the day the for­mal han­dover hap­pens (an event like death or ill­ness of the se­nior leader).

But how do we gal­va­nize fam­ily mem­ber com­mit­ment? That is a tough ques­tion that con­tin­ues to bother busi­ness own­ers es­pe­cially those whose age range from 60 on­wards.

Here are a cou­ple of dis­turb­ing state­ments com­ing from the next gen­er­a­tion fam­ily mem­bers (31- and 40-year-old) that my firm, W+B Fam­ily Busi­ness Ad­vi­sory, re­searched and polled in 2017.

Next Gen­er­a­tion 1

“My par­ents of­fered me fu­ture own­er­ship even while I was in col­lege. It felt good be­ing an owner but years later, I re­al­ized that hav­ing zero out­side work ex­pe­ri­ence be­came more of a li­a­bil­ity. The only con­so­la­tion I got was be­cause I never went through the dif­fi­culty of ap­ply­ing for a job. There was also less pres­sure in terms of go­ing to work. But how I wish I had real work ex­pe­ri­ence out­side my com­fort zone. It’s been a dif­fi­cult 15 years man­ag­ing the busi­ness with fre­quent dis­agree­ments with papa. It is a wake-up call and this made me re­al­ized that at 39, it’s time for me to make a full as­sess­ment of whether I am wor­thy to suc­ceed my fa­ther. I am play­ing catch up by hir­ing pro­fes­sion­als and do­ing ad­vance cour­ses on ar­eas I am weak at.”

Next Gen­er­a­tion 2

“I have the best of both worlds and couldn’t ask for a bet­ter job. Of course, friends teased me as a COO (child of owner) but at 31 years old and man­ag­ing 450-plus em­ploy­ees, it’s not bad. I also get to en­joy the ben­e­fits of a nice salary, an SUV and un­lim­ited travel ben­e­fits. My class­mates who are em­ployed are still lan­guish­ing with low salaries. I couldn’t ask for more!”

When they were asked about the fol­low­ing: fu­ture growth plans, man­ag­ing com­plex­i­ties and bal­anc­ing growth, how to con­front the un­cer­tain­ties of sus­tain­ing the busi­ness, their re­ac­tions showed se­ri­ous reser­va­tions and self-doubt. Col­lec­tively, these were gen­er­ally the re­sponses of more than 100 next gen­er­a­tion suc­ces­sors sur­veyed:

-If they re­ally have the skills set like their hard­work­ing vi­sion­ary par­ents

-Their con­tin­u­ing strug­gle in the ar­eas of de­ci­sion-mak­ing and peo­ple poli­cies

-Their con­cerns re­lated to the pres­sures of ex­pand­ing the busi­ness

-Bal­anc­ing the old and the new ways of man­ag­ing the en­ter­prise

-Is­sue of busi­ness longevity, co-own­er­ship with sib­lings, debt is­sues

-Po­ten­tial con­flict among sib­lings that will pre­dictably sur­face when their vi­sion­ary fa­ther is no longer around

These are nat­u­ral re­ac­tions that I en­counter ev­ery day. There­fore, the real chal­lenge for busi­ness own­ers is to con­front these ques­tions:

-How will we know if those who are ac­tively work­ing in the busi­ness have the pas­sion and sin­cere in­ten­tion to grow the busi­ness?

-How will we know if they are just af­ter the four P’s--Pay, Po­si­tion, Perks and the Po­ten­tial wind­fall (own­er­ship)--the par­ents gen­er­ously and wrongly of­fered them when they started join­ing the busi­ness?

If these ques­tions re­main unan­swered or if there are no sin­gu­lar fo­cus in cre­at­ing pow­er­ful com­mit­ment ini­tia­tives now, these will re­sult in many sleep­less nights by the busi­ness leader.

Ex­pect­edly, the road ahead will be less paved and dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate. Hence, gov­er­nance should now be the way for­ward.

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