A Guide to Navigating Conflict in Your Family Business (36:26)
BanyanGlobal partner and co-founder Josh Baron joins Editorial Director Karen Dillon for a conversation about conflict in family businesses. Not only did Baron co-author The Harvard Business Review Family Business Handbook, but he also created and taught a course on managing conflict in family businesses at Columbia Business School.
- The culture of conflict is different in every family, but many families are so afraid of conflict that they will settle for “fake harmony”.
- Conflict is a “Goldilocks problem”. Too much and too little are both unsustainable. You must find a middle ground of healthy and constructive conflict in order to achieve a sustainable path forward.
- One of the best ways to avoid unhealthy conflict is to plan ahead by making policies for certain hot button issues before they become about a certain person or issue.
- If you’re already headed down the path of unhealthy or potentially unhealthy conflict, take a step back and try to reframe your disagreement. The first step is to agree that coming to an agreement is better than what might happen if you don’t. If you can agree that that is your goal, you will be in a good place to work on the issues now and prepare for future generations.
- Families never start a business together expecting to get to a point of suing each other, but this can happen. Being aware of the steps in the conflict spiral and knowing when your family might be on this path is the first step in getting back on track to working successfully together.
- Before you jump into a difficult conversation, set some rules and have a discuss what you need in order to have a constructive meeting.
- Navigating conflict in your family business can be more challenging because you feel more comfortable to step over the line of what you could do in a non-related business situation. But, these relationships between family members are more resilient and forgiving and can bounce back much easier and much quicker with at least a small amount of accountability.
- Conflict in a family business is a “we” problem. It affects everyone in the system, including the business, and it takes dedication and cooperation from everyone to get back to a good, functioning place.