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F B AC A D EM Y


Bridging the gap A large age gap between generations, disengaged or incompetent heirs, or rapid industry change that makes the family’s institutional knowledge irrelevant are just some of the reasons a family-run business may find itself seeking a high-performing outside executive. One of the families Baskin works


with had their first experience of bringing in a non-family leader after five generations in business. They had been in manufacturing, mining, and cattle ranching, naturally acquiring a lot of undeveloped land over time, which was eventually incorporated as part of a growing city. “The city came to them and said: ‘You


own about 8,000 acres of undeveloped farmland in our city limits and you need to do something with it. It cannot just sit there with cows on it’,” Baskin says. “So they realised, suddenly, they were


in a different business to what they had always been in traditionally. They did not really have that kind of expertise— real estate development—which is what was suddenly thrust on them.”


Preparing for your new arrival


In the case of the cattle ranchers, the first part of the hiring process was getting their governance in order. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an expert who doesn’t stress the importance of solid governance when it comes to the often-fraught issue of succession. “Governance is always the first step,”


Baskin says. “Yet it always seems [like] the last


thing that families who have been running their business with family executives think of.” Corporate governance can protect


against a multitude of possible future family business disasters, including a lack of leadership talent—or interest— amongst the next generation.


54 CAMPDENFB.COM


A GOOD CONSULTANT CAN HELP DEAL WITH THE FRUSTRATION OF “KISSING A LOT OF


FROGS” DURING THE HIRING PROCESS


“We start with the values of the


families and if there is not a clear [values] statement, we work with them to articulate that,” Baskin says. “Once you have those values, then you


can create the family vision as owners of this business—why do we own it? And what is the potential of this business? ‘Because our great-great grandfather started it,’ is not the right answer.” Regardless of whether the family


is promoting someone internally, or bringing in an external hire, the consultants CampdenFB spoke to (perhaps unsurprisingly) advised bringing in a recruitment expert. Heinz Leopold, who spent five years


in the C-suite at family-owned German coffee giant Tchibo, says families tend towards having an insular view of their businesses, and are too reliant on instinct, rather than analytics, when it comes to choosing the new top brass. “They do one or two interviews


and think ‘Oh, you’re our man’. I can tell you, in the majority of cases, this is wrong.”


MANAGEMENT SKILLS ARE TOTALLY UNDERVALUED, BUT IN THE END THEY MAKE THE COMPANY WORK


PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES, PRESS ASSOCIATION


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