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Bringing the family business community together

Employing outside the family circle

30th September 2013 Paul Andrews

I currently have a small business owned jointly by my wife and I.  We are the founders of the business and are now looking to expand and bring in non-family managers. Are there any specific things that we should think about?

Taking the plunge with a growing business and employing non-family members can be a daunting prospect.  No longer are things necessarily done 'the family way' which can lead to difficulties with 'outsiders' fitting in to the business.  However, a growing business does need to develop and the management team needs to grow with the business, ensuring that they collectively possess the right skills to effectively manage the business at the same time.  Employing non-family members may be the only option available, for example, if there is nobody within the next generation to step up and perform the role to the necessary level, as is often the case.

Employing non-family members can bring in many new skills to a family firm and indeed, some of the most successful family business owners bring in non-family to add to their management team as the business grows. Clearly, the right people in the business is key.

However, care needs to be taken to engage with people on the right level.  Roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined and boundaries established. There is no point employing  someone and then preventing them from actually doing the job that they were recruited to do.  Going forward, job roles and clear communication of what is expected sets a benchmark for family members thinking about seeking a role in the firm too.  

The employment of non-family members can be challenging, especially for first generation family business owners as they are effectively having to give up a degree of control and responsibility but if can have hugely positive outcome on developments for the future of the family firm.

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