Problem: Our Son is In High School and is on the Jr. Baseball Team which he thinks he wants to pursue when he is out of school. He helps us when we need him if it does not interfere with his baseball. How do we get him to commit to joining our business?
Answer: How much have you to talked to him about joining your business? Is he interested or not? Your desire to have him working in your business is common in business families, especially as you have had him help you. But not every family automatically incorporates each child in the business.
Has he said he wants to work in your business?
But only getting him to say he wants to work in your business is not a sign that he is committed to doing so.
He has another interest and apparently, he does well at baseball. Does he want to play professionally? It is time you sat down and learned something important about your son.
Do not start the conversation
By asking him if he wants to be
In your business or in baseball.
It is tempting to put the two as opposites in your discussion. But then your discussion will concentrate only on your business or his baseball. The real issue is
What does your son want in life?
He needs to have some ideas about this question before you ask him to make a choice. But asking him the answer to YOUR question about life is not the answer either. A better start is
What is the most fun you have ever had?
Asked in a simple way and not in a formal discussion with the both of you sitting down ready to tackle the world about something. Try not to press him for an answer. Wait for something to come from him at a time when he wants to say something to you.
If he never gets to saying anything. Ask him again in the same, offhand way. And keep asking him but never pressing for an answer. If you press him, he will think
YOU want your answer rather than his.
The children of a family in business get used to answering your questions in the way they think YOU want your answer. Questions in business families are usually about the business and not about the children of the business family. It is sometimes difficult
To separate the two
So, you must do it for those who might mistake the meaning of your question.
After he declares his choice, you need to understand if you will accept his values or not. If he says he wants to be in your business, please ask why he favors your business.
Keep his choice in your mind
So you can understand him when he may be unsure.
If he prefers a baseball future, you have to exercise more understanding. That choice may be difficult for you and your family to accept. Is it easy for you to attend his games? It may be difficult because the business and his games will compete for your and every other family member’s attention.
Unfortunately, that conflict never completely disappears
Resolving many such complicated issues requires experienced professionals with extended experience working with family businesses.
If you have questions or would like to follow up and learn more, get in touch.
The fear always being present can be destructive of family or business objectives or both. Wishing it to go away is no solution. Facing the conflict and resolving it at every instance it comes up is time consuming and troublesome. But necessary. Not deciding which alternative to choose can be more destructive than choosing then wishing the alternative.
If an argument starts
Stop the argument and discuss the alternatives.
Accept that the conflict may turn up again
Choose the alternative that has the best promise in that specific moment. Yes, there may be a future argument over the same issue(s). Resolve it for that moment again. Opinions and needs change for families and businesses and the people involved. Discussing the issues when they come up, adds energy, and should add confidence to your family to stay with together in love.