A Parent in the Business

I recently was presented with a situation where a business owner had hired her father in the position of CFO. At the time the father had just retired from another business and had the skill set that was needed in the daughter’s business. The fact that there had been a long-standing negative relationship between the two was pushed aside in an attempt to be expedient, and with the thought that perhaps this might improve the personal relationship between them. As you might imagine, the father had done things his way for years and was not really open to taking orders from his daughter.

So the negative relationship was continuing, now on a business basis as well. When questioned in any fashion the father threatened to retire again, but the daughter still needed the help, so they’d have a discussion and reach what she thought was agreement. But, of course, the father went back to doing things as he saw fit, rather than letting her take the lead. She found this lack of control very draining on her emotionally and physically. But she still needed someone to function as CFO.

After discussing it with me she realized she really needed to find someone who would be willing to work WITH her and follow her lead. Her plan is to bring on a consultant to function as temporary CFO. If he/she works out the person will become permanent. Over the next 30 days she will actively seek a replacement for her father and tell her father that she is accepting his retirement. She expects to get some flack and more negativity, but she has realized that her father will never change (cannot change) and she needs to take back control of her business.

Too often I see business owners putting up with employees, even parents, who are non-productive or counterproductive. Sometimes a work-around can be made. I have one client whose father handed over the business to her but remained in the business. Because he functions mostly as an ambassador he is not blocking productivity. In this case it’s good for the parent and the business, but think long and hard before agreeing to have a family member in your business, especially a parent. Make sure they are not  holding you hostage in your own business.

Do you have an interesting story to share about child-parent business relationships?

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Working with family businesses is a dynamic I enjoy. There are so many complexities, it can be very complicated. If you have a family business situation that’s troubling you, I’m happy to offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and see if I can be of help.