Judy Lin Walsh and Ben Francois, have published their article in the Harvard Business Review, When Should You Fire Your Child from the Family Business? Their article begins as follows:
For years Charles dreamed of working side by side with his son, James, in the family business, a thriving manufacturing company that his father had founded and he had grown. Since James joined the business straight out of college, both men assumed he would eventually take over. But things hadn’t turned out the way the patriarch hoped. Eager to demonstrate his value to the business, James asked for, and was given, responsibility for growing new lines of business. Initiative after initiative either failed or underwhelmed, but Charles wrote them off as valuable learning experiences. Now he had a bigger problem. Longtime trusted employees working in James’s group were handing in their resignations. Charles feared that James was never going to be able to lead this business — and worse, that he was damaging it beyond repair. The question that loomed in his mind: Should I fire my own son?
Choosing to fire your child can be one of the most difficult decisions you can make as a leader of a family business — and the consequences will be enduring no matter how well it’s done.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys football team, fired his daughter, Charlotte, a Stanford graduate, twice from the franchise. Neither separation lasted long, and they say they laugh about it now. But his daughter still brings it up in press interviews, which is understandable. Being ousted from your job by your own family can feel like a double punch. We’ve seen individuals who have been let go spend more than five years licking their wounds and disconnecting not only from the business but also from the family itself before coming back into the fold. And sometimes those bitter wounds never heal.
To ward against making decisions you may regret later (both personally and professionally), think about what is driving your instinct to fire, what your options are for addressing the problem, and what the future would look like if you took that step.
Posted by Lewis J. Saret, Co-General Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal..