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Family Business: Conflict Resolution Strategies


With a family business, conflict resolution skills are key to maintaining relationships and a successful business. You cannot let personal relationships enter into the business operations. Family feuds often send customers packing and cause irreparable damage to both your business and family members.

Common family business conflicts include:

  • Money
  • Management roles
  • Ownership percentages
  • Business goals

Preventing Conflicts

To prevent conflicts from arising, it is necessary to have a firm grasp on how the business will be managed and operated. Assign leadership roles before launching the company. If possible, hire an outside accountant so that a neutral party is managing money. By using these conflict resolution strategies, you prevent troubles from ever arising.

Stopping Rivalry from Damaging the Family Business

Before launching your family business, one of the best ways to handle conflict resolution is by writing out a business plan that everyone agrees to. Use this business plan as the rulebook on who performs what duty within the family business. Consider paying everyone the same rate, so that jealousy over salaries does not become a problem in the future.

Handling Periodic Evaluations

Personnel evaluations provide excellent opportunity for finding room for improvement within a business. They should not, however, be used to find fault in people. If someone could improve their performance within the family business, do not single them out. Instead, hold a group meeting explaining what, within the business, could be improved. Offer solid explanations on how to improve it, but do not issue orders.

Stress Management Techniques

Anger and stress management techniques are vital for employees who work from home. Working out of a home office is already stressful because you spend long hours alone without face-to-face interaction. When family conflicts enter the situation, it is easy to blow up and say hurtful things, rather than following a conflict resolution plan.

If you feel tense, go to a quiet room and sit down. Play some relaxing music; new age and classical are great choices. Focus on your breathing; deep breathing is a great anger and stress management skill.

Take a deep breath through your nose, forcing your belly to distend. Hold that breath for five seconds and then slowly breathe it out through your mouth. Repeat this for five to ten minutes. This relieves tension and clears your mind.

Benefits to Regular Business Meetings

You must hold regular meetings, where all employees and applicable family members are present. Include as many neutral parties as possible. During this meeting, rationally discuss everything on your mind, and allow others to do the same. It is important to calmly discuss things and have input from everyone on conflict resolution options.

For example, if your brother is upset with the website you have designed, do not become angry. Instead, ask everyone in the room how the website could be improved. Have everyone vote on changes, use a ballot system, and have a neutral party read the results. Stick to a ruling that the majority vote will be followed no matter what. If your company is incorporated, also listen to the advice of your stockholders.

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