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Generational Conflict When Transitioning Leadership Roles


OVERVIEW Blackwood was engaged by the members of a second-generation enterprising family with G2 in-laws presiding over respective business units within the larger family enterprise. The family was experiencing conflict around timelines, complications in transitioning leadership responsibilities to a non-family successor, and confusion regarding how to fund a buy-out when the business was growing so quickly and expanding internationally.

The right work to prepare for smooth transitions.

With Blackwood’s help, the family was able to have intentional communication without friction.


Within 8 months of engaging with Blackwood, a clear plan was developed that included timelines for each of the current G2 shareholders, an employment policy that the family agreed would apply to all branches of its members, and family meetings within each of the G2/G3 branches to begin exposing them to the family business, while encouraging them to pursue their passions and chart their own course in life.


Initially, Blackwood was working with the members of the first and second generations of the family. Our scope of work has since expanded to include meetings with the second and third-generation family members of each branch, in part to begin to prepare them for future responsibilities.


All work continues to be performed in collaboration with the family’s incumbent team of legal, accounting, tax, investment, and insurance professionals.


Important Achievements

  1. Developed a common set of family values that all branches of the family support and have become more intentional about living together.

  2. Developed a Guiding Principles/Code of Conduct Document, originally for use during family meetings, which the family later chose to begin using within their business to help improve day-to-day working relationships.

  3. Demystified individual goals and timeliness of the G2 shareholders and presidents of their respective business units so there was shared understanding.

  4. Established a family communication plan with a highly tailored approach to minimize the possibility of renewing conflict the family had experienced prior to engaging Blackwood. A considerable amount of time and attention was invested in checking in with individual members of the family between meetings to ensure alignment was maintained in the days/weeks after critical discussions at family council meetings.

  5. Facilitated strategic planning sessions with the non-family executive team to develop a 12-18-month operating plan for the largest division of the business. This plan was developed to help the business generate the level of liquidity that would be required to achieve some of the longer-term shareholder goals re: buyouts.

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