“Hangin’ On To The Good Times.” The catchy riff of the lyric is repeated over and over…

“and we were fightin’ the good fight, hangin’ on to the good times.”

This past week I had the pleasure of talking with (or emailing with) more than ten different retail store owners. We talked about business, human resources, sales management, topline volume, financial challenges and personal family issues.

Nowadays I read almost exclusively articles, magazines, and books relating to Generational Transfer (the working title of my book which will hopefully be out before Christmas). On my desk this morning is “The Heroes Farewell,” “When Generations Collide” and “Millennials & the Pop Culture.” Each of these books in their own way is trying to teach us about the strange feelings associated with passing the torch.

Wayne Rivers is co-founder and President of The Family Business Institute. I’m an avid reader of their website and newsletter. In a recent news letter he talks about the built differences created when families work together.

Consider the paradox

  • Unconditional love and relationships v. conditional business roles
  • Family-business v. accountable business behavior
  • Emotion v. dispassionate decision-making
  • Family support motivation v. profit motivation
  • Leadership by the heart v. leadership by the book

I could write for hours on the disappointment seen on the faces of family members struggling in meetings, in customer service, sales and human resources situations. Just because one family member “would have done it differently,” a firestorm of pain and suffering can begin to spread. Each generation believes their solution would produce a different outcome.

Father travels south for the winter. Upon his return this spring the father looked at the sales figures from the first several months of the year and decided that “he could have done better.” It is impossible to relive the prior months. So assuming business is even a little better during the next 4-5 months while father is home the assumption will be, “I told you so.” This is fine so long as the father wants to stay and run the business. It would be his right. However, if father plans on heading to the sunny south again next year, then the pain and disjointedness caused by this sort of communication will not further the family firm.

Enough said