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Attracting Non-Family Members Into The Fold

By Doug Robbins |

Some people want to stay away from family owned businesses because of the politics and the fact that they know they will not usually rise to a position of President within that company. Having said that, how do you attract key managers to your business if they know there never will be a chance for them to be number one?

We have found throughout the years that if you appeal to people on a personal basis and make them feel that their professional and personal needs are met, that they will take the leap of faith and join you and your family in running the business.

Some tips to ponder when you are looking for non-family key managers are:

  1. Assess whether the person is patient, mature and willing to accept that they will not hold the number one position. They must be able to work with what is available and make improvements on a gradual basis, not come in and try to tell a family member what to do right away. Understanding how the business has operated in the past is important for them to understand. You are responsible for educating them.
  2. Key non-family managers must learn the values of the owners and identify with the company culture. The values and culture of these key people and that of the family and company must align. If you feel any disconnect, move away from considering hiring that individual.
  3. The key manager must have an unquenchable desire to build and be profit minded. They must share your goals and vision. If you want more company branches in the horizon, they need to be excited about helping you to get them there.
  4. The business environment must provide stimulation, challenge, a clear mission with goals, respect for employees and peers, a better-than-average communication system, and a defined relationship between owners and those from the outside. This environment will encourage the individual to join the organization and stay loyal to the company's mission.
  5. The owner and the outsider must discuss and share a similar vision for the future of the company based on solid business values. Important issues include sharing of equity, rate of growth, and employee teamwork as examples.
  6. A solid compensation package might encompass profit sharing, performance bonus, deferred compensation, company car and a generous vacation allowance. Believe it or not, giving the individual authority and responsibility, a personalized work situation, education and training and providing a system of honest communication will go a long way towards attracting and keeping a key manager.
  7. Addressing quality-of-life issues that are important for the outsider's entire family might include helping them with children's applications to preferred private schools, elder and child-care provisions and helping them to arrange a low-interest financing for their new home. You will position yourself as a caring corporate citizen when you take the majority of an individual's needs into consideration.

Drawing key managers into the family business fold can be quite successful if you take the time to address the needs of each selected candidate and clearly outline to them how you can match their needs during their employment with you, as long as they will commit to meeting your needs and understand and accept their proposed role within the realm of the family operated business.

Providing a family-like atmosphere in the business which usually has been in the family for generations, help employees to become acquainted with members of each generation. Make a list of the people you know who have already proven to be compatible with different family members. It will speed up the process of selecting the right individuals into the fold.

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