Spotlight On: Family Business Conflict
A Guide to Navigating Conflict in Your Family Business
Finding the Goldilocks Zone of Conflict
For many families, the fear of conflict is so pervasive they go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it. But fake harmony doesn’t solve problems. In fact, too little conflict can lead to the same destructive outcomes as too much. Conflict is a Goldilocks problem. And it doesn’t have to tear your family apart.
Why Family Businesses Need the Right Level of Conflict
Is your family in the Goldilocks Zone? 3 questions to ask yourself.
The Myth of “It’s not worth fighting over”
Families often avoid conflict at all costs because they fear the consequences. That is almost always a mistake.
Managing Conflict Across Generations
Tips for ensuring your family is able to have constructive conversations about challenging issues.
Moving from Fake Harmony to Constructive Conflict
If your family is afraid of conflict, there are several steps you can take to get to a better place.
Avoiding Conflict Will Only Hurt Your Family Business
Avoid reaching a “cliff event” by recognizing fake harmony in your family business and taking steps to work it out together.
The Destructive Power of Fake Harmony
If your family is so afraid of conflict that you avoid discussing real issues, you are likely damaging both your business and your family.
The Conflict Spiral: How Conflict Escalates
Major fights in family businesses often follow a pattern, which we call the conflict spiral. Conflict has a gravitational pull. What starts as a simple disagreement can slowly spiral into an all-out war. Here’s how to recognize where you are in the spiral – and find a more constructive approach instead.
A Guide to Navigating Conflict
Conflict in a family business is a “we” problem. It affects everyone in the system, including the business. Here’s how to make sure your family fosters healthy conflict.
The Conflict Spiral
Conflict tends to escalate in predictable stages. Here’s how to make sure yours doesn’t get to the point of no return.
Ground Rules for a Fair Fight
Emotions can run high when your family business has to make tough decisions. Here’s how to make sure your discussion is productive.
Is it possible to rebuild trust in your family once it’s been broken? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a constructive way to move on.
What to do if a Feud Threatens Your Family Business
Unmanaged, conflict can destroy not only your business, but your family. But if you’re aware of what’s happening, you can escape that fate.
Dealing with a Family Crisis
A family crisis can bring out the best, or worst, in people. There is a difficult, but possible, path out of the conflict spiral. Instead, you’ll have to address a series of issues, with all options on the table. Here’s how to get the business family back on track.
Tips for Escaping a Brewing Family Feud
It’s possible to pull your family back from spiraling conflict. Here’s how families find their way out.
Five Tips to Manage Conflict When You’re In the Thick of It
A few simple steps will help your family and family businesses move forward in a much more positive direction.
Building Conflict Resilience
Having different points of view from people we care about can be uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to break your relationship.
Escaping a Family Feud
If you’re willing to work together, you can find your way out of what might seem to be intractable conflict. Here’s how.
How to Spot a Problem Patriarch
It takes a strong founder to build a great family business. But that’s not always good for the next generation.
Why Fights Erupt in Family Businesses
Conflict in family business can be complicated. But if you understand why disagreements occur you can prevent them from happening in the first place.
Course Correcting in a Conflict
How to stop conflict from escalating in your family business.
Strategies to Avoid a Family Feud
Even better than knowing how to exit a battle that is spiraling downward is knowing how to avoid it in the first place. Find ways to address issues before they arise with discussions and policies — and recognize the signs that your conflict is escalating so it doesn’t get out of control.
Avoiding the Conflict Spiral
Get ahead of potential problems by creating policies and shock absorbers before you need them.
What Healthy Conflict Looks Like
Despite what many people think, conflict is not always a bad thing.
Trust is Like a Bank Account
Family business owners need to build a foundation of trust to make good decisions together.
When You’ve Made Enough Money to Cause Family Tension
Your family business is successful. Now what?
When the Survival of the Family Enterprise Depends on the Owners Going Their Own Way
Even if you must split in business, you can keep familial relationships intact through preparation.
Strength Through Boundaries
Implementing structure in a family business can help ensure that everyone understands how decisions are made.
If You’re Feeling Unappreciated, Give Someone Else Credit
The power of appreciation and giving deserved credit to others cannot be underestimated.
Conflict Thought Leaders
Conflict is always present in family business owners’ relationships, even if it is not “visible”. Acknowledging and accepting that that is the case is one of the first steps on learning how to manage the conflicts.
Families are often programmed from birth to avoid conflict in the name of preserving family relationships, holidays, etc. Unfortunately, in most cases doing that pushes issues of real important under the rug. Rather than trying to avoid conflict, focus instead on how to manage it. When you do, your family and your business will be far healthier in the long run.
Most of the time, conflict is not about who is right, it is more about what is better for each person. It’s about conflicting perceptions. Investing your time trying to convince the other person that you are right and they are wrong is, most of the time, useless. Listening to what’s important to the other side and discussing possibilities of how to address it is halfway to building an agreeable solution.
Nick Di Loreto
Conflict, by definition, increases as families grow and their interests diverge. The most successful family business owners are those who know how to raise and harness, rather than suppress, their differences.
Conflict is natural in a business family. If you are experiencing “fake harmony”, push yourself to have the difficult conversations in a constructive way today. Don’t wait for long-simmering tensions to eventually erupt.
Well-managed conflict is an essential ingredient for family businesses success. Avoid harmful conflict and fake harmony. Look to build a psychologically safe, but uncomfortable, place to make tough decisions.
Dealing with conflict is not about winning an argument, or proving who is smarter. It’s about reaching real understanding. Be curious. Listen and ask questions. Be clear about your path to your conclusions. It’s not easy to get it right at first… but it is impossible to do it if you don’t even try.
Conflict is natural in family businesses, and often comes from family members having different perspectives.We find that when you foster an environment where individuals can hear and be heard, they generally find common ground and are able to mitigate the type of conflict that can be hurtful or make it hard to come to agreement.