Bringing new faces into a family business can be one of the most value-creating acts that existing members of a family can instigate. New ideas from wider experiences can only improve and develop a family business, Yet this can be a daunting prospect for anyone attempting to break into a close-knit family unit.
Existing family members of the family business team worth their salt would be well advised to ensure that they have a strategy in place when an ‘outsider’ comes on board.
By ensuring that there is an openness with communicating across the board as a cultural statement is a good first step of the business overall. Generating a sense of shared ‘ownership’ in all employees is a value in itself and the best of family businesses seem able to generate that feeling within their people, family or otherwise.
It also means that when non-family members seek to integrate – especially at senior level – there is a sense of togetherness that means communication is open and honest from the start.
Because there might be circumstances where family togetherness might inhibit others’ involvement, the key family stakeholders will need to go further than the norm to ensure that the input from non-family of demonstrated as very useful and valuable.
There may be hard work to be done to make sure that non-family members feel welcomed and there is no ‘cliqueiness’ where family members are positioned as ‘different’ and in some ways exclusive.
So the very best way to integrate external employees is to treat them as one of your own. Being very open with communication; inclusiveness; accepting of feedback in a constructive way are just for starters.
Where a family has been able to accept the value of non-family members, it would seem obtuse not to make the best of the value they can add to the unique business model they have joined.
Sometimes it may take the involvement of a third party to help family members appreciate the benefits of, and how to go about effective integration when non-family members join the team. There may be some expense involved in this and where it has been used, the value created has been above and beyond expectations.