Onboarding New Family Members: Don’t Miss Out on the Opportunity (Part 2)

Onboarding New Family Members: Don’t Miss Out on the Opportunity


In our last submission on the topic of Onboarding New Family Members, we began to dissect some of the nuances of bringing new family members aboard the family enterprise, and some of the challenges that leadership might face in the process. We discussed integrating new family members to the business’s team and culture while bearing in mind the individuals’ emotional and psychological well-being. We then dialed in on the first of several cautions that leadership must consider with onboarding new family members, the first caution being procrastination, and offered some poignant counsel around developing an onboarding strategy.

We will continue to delve into other cautionary considerations in this series, focusing today on the opportunities hiring family members can bring to your business; the caution being, don’t miss out on the opportunity when it avails itself.

Don’t Miss Out On The Opportunity

If you have not done so already, creating an onboarding plan can be an excellent way to rally the troops around the tenants that make your family business unique while offering inspiration and a renewed focus on the central elements of your business DNA. Your onboarding plan will provide those young “rising stars” within your family unit with a compass by which to navigate their life preparations for integration into the family business. It will also provide those who marry into the family a clear set of standards by which they too might assimilate.

The ultimate goal in family onboarding is to bring new opportunities to the business in the form of human resources from a limited pool of talent. By having a plan in place for onboarding, you effectively set expectations and paint a clear picture of who you are and where you are going as a business. Those interested can equip themselves to conform to these standards well in advance of their integration into the company.

True Merit

Having an onboarding plan in place with clear expectations is also an opportunity to vet prospective family employees and chart a course for eligible candidacy based on their qualifications. While there may be a place for any family member in the family business, the “place” they find themselves in should be one that matches their talents and abilities. For some family businesses, there may be candidates groomed for leadership; in some cases, before they are even born. Still, other family-owned businesses take a merit-based approach where family members must earn positions within the company.

Having an onboarding plan in place for either set of circumstances that clearly expresses your goals as a business is helpful to everyone involved in your company. A majority of successful family-owned businesses won’t merely give the reigns to an inexperienced family member regardless of their blood-type. Instead, an onboarding plan should prescribe the standard by which you measure new entrants into the business. True merit is always essential to consider. So, whether a company’s position is a birthright or a member is married in, the expectations you set upfront can either qualify or disqualify a member based on merit and serve the business and all of the members who make up your enterprise.

“Your onboarding program is a great opportunity to provide a family-wide approach to orientation, education and engagement (just because the rising generation was born into a culture of wealth doesn’t mean they understand responsible wealth ownership).”

The Right Dynamic

While we are addressing the “What Not To Do’s” in this part of our series, we want to stress that your onboarding program itself is not a document of “what not to do;” instead, the goal is to welcome the new family member without creating a “you” and “us” dynamic. Even so, there may still be some hold-outs within the family unit and business who may have strong feelings about blood-line relations over married-in status. Your onboarding program can set the expectations and express the candidate’s value and their ability to enrich the organization. Familial partisanship can create all kinds of rifts in an organization and stifle growth. With an effective onboarding program in place, blood ties become less important, and true merit is emphasized.

“To foster not partisanship, but the recognition of true merit wherever found.” –Otis Allen Glazebrook

In our next installment, we will look at our last “don’t” as we explore the merging of families, sentiments, and culture, and how these can impact the individuals and the business itself.

Citation: Family Business Magazine: Onboarding New Family Members Must Be An Intentional Process; Godfrey & Monnier