"I'm still running this business!"

Maybe they don't say it. But for the heads of family businesses, handing over leadership to the next generation can be difficult.

After all, the experience of running a business is not something you get overnight. And shouldn't the course be maintained if the company has been successful for decades?

A generational change is like changing drivers while the car is running:

Often a difficult affair - especially if the driver considers the heir "not ready" and insists on staying in the driver's seat.

So what do you do if you are part of the generation that will take over the management of the company in a generational change?

Staying with the car analogy, don't try to pry the driver's hands away from the wheel.

Be more constructive.

Think of generational change as a process. Here, you can learn a lot from the previous generation and thus minimize the risk of pushing the organization and the family into a crisis as a result of the generational change.

And with that approach, you will be met with a higher level of trust, confidence and understanding from the person you are taking over from.

Is your mother or father chairman of the family business? Then try to agree well ahead of the handover that you will be vice-chairman and help with some of the chairman's tasks.

Over time, you may take on more and more tasks. And to ensure a smooth transition, you can swap places, so the matriarch becomes vice-chair and you become chair.

Sure, the interaction may be challenging. But it can also give you time to get used to the new state of affairs and achieve a more orderly generational change.

It is not always easy to pass on your life's work, and it can also be difficult to recognize that the next generation of your family has grown up. So, be patient and appreciate the outgoing generation's willingness to contribute till the end - even if you are ready to put your own leadership into play.

Contact me if your family owns a business that is facing a difficult generational change. Together, we will find out if you might benefit from help.

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Eva Fischer Hansen

Eva Fischer Hansen

Her deep insight, yet practical advice, brings new hope and renewal to those working for family- or founder-owned businesses

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