For those who are involved in family business, You Can't Fire Me I'm Your Father!, will provide insight into navigating the issues and challenges that are unique to a family business.
Dr. Neil Koenig recognizes that whether around the conference table or the breakfast table, psychology always comes into play. He defines four typical scenarios of family businesses. The success and failure of each is assessed based upon a business owner's priorities on the family or on the business, on both or on neither. Readers will recognize that few businesses or individuals will consistently fall into only one category. Some families, typically the entrepreneurial founders, prioritize the business and ignore the family. For others, often second generation business owners, the business is simply a playground for their whims and egos. The book summarizes that, not surprisingly, the most successful family businesses are those in which the owners prioritize both the family and the business.
Boundaries are an important topic explored by Dr. Koenig. Family members must put serious boundaries between their home lives and the work place. They must recognize that there are unique challenges in being successful when working with siblings and parents. They must leave personal issues at home. The reverse is true as well. Family members are advised to deal with business issues only at the office. Koenig recommends outlining a series of appropriate values that permeate major decisions of the business. And he suggests practices to keep the business independent of a narrow, family-oriented focus, such as establishing an independent board of directors.
The chapter summaries are excellent, giving brief overviews of the major points that have been made. It is also worthwhile to review the advice offered in the Fifty-five Best Practices of Family Business. Although many of the messages in You Can't Fire Me I'm Your Father! may seem obvious to the reader, they are nevertheless worth revisiting. The obvious practices can often be those that are both most neglected and most important.
Beth Seigenthaler is the President of Seigenthaler Public Relations of Nashville, Tennessee, which was founded by her father, Thomas P. Seigenthaler.