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Mitigating the Most Common Causes of Conflict in Family Businesses

The second in a series of blogs discussing common conflicts that arise in family businesses and how to avoid them

Following on from our previous article around the most common causes of discord in family businesses, we now consider a multifaceted approach for mitigating the issues we discussed.


We focus below on establishing clear guidelines, improving communication, and fostering a culture of respect and professionalism.

Family Business Meeting

1. Develop a Formal Succession Plan

Create a transparent and fair succession plan with the input of all key family members. Use external advisors if necessary to ensure impartiality. This plan should outline the criteria for leadership roles, the process of transition, and how decisions are made, reducing uncertainty and resentment.


2. Align on Vision and Goals

Hold regular meetings to discuss and align on the business's vision and goals. Encourage open dialogue where every family member, regardless of generation, can express their views and suggestions. Consider using a neutral facilitator to help navigate these discussions if they become contentious.


3. Improve Communication

Implement structured communication practices, such as regular business meetings, updates, and performance reviews, that are distinct from family gatherings. Encourage the use of professional channels for business communication to help separate family and business roles.


4. Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

Define clear job descriptions and responsibilities for each family member involved in the business. This clarity helps prevent overlaps and ensures that everyone knows their contributions and expectations, reducing the potential for resentment.


5. Establish Fair Practices

Ensure fairness and consistency in salary, promotions, and leadership opportunities by setting up merit-based criteria for these decisions. Consider involving external HR advisors to provide unbiased assessments and recommendations.


6. Promote Work-Life Balance

Encourage family members to maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries between business operations and family time. This may include rules about discussing business at family events or ensuring that family members take adequate time off.


7. Ensure Financial Transparency

Adopt clear financial practices, including regular audits and open financial meetings where key financial decisions and the state of the business are discussed transparently with family members involved in the business.


8. Encourage Innovation and Flexibility

Create an environment where new ideas are welcomed and considered, regardless of the source. This can be facilitated through regular brainstorming sessions and innovation workshops that include members from different generations.


9. Manage External Relationships Carefully

Set clear policies about the involvement of spouses or partners in the business to avoid potential conflicts. These policies should cover roles, decision-making authority, and how conflicts of interest will be managed.


10. Foster a Culture of Professionalism

Promote a professional work culture by establishing codes of conduct, performance standards, and regular training. This helps ensure that business decisions are made objectively and that personal relationships do not unduly influence the business.



By addressing these common causes of conflict with strategic planning, open communication, and a commitment to fairness and professionalism, family businesses can strengthen both their business operations and family relationships. It's about balancing the unique strengths of a family-driven approach with the best practices of business management to create a resilient, successful enterprise.

If you would like to discuss how we can help navigate conflict within your family business just book a free, no-obligation, call by clicking below.

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