Bridging generation gaps in the workplace

Monday, May 27, 2013
Friction in family-owned businesses

In small businesses, some managers are their employees’ parents or grandparents. That can cause friction unless families take a businesslike approach, according to Ritch Sorenson, the Opus Endowed Chair of family business at the University of St. Thomas.

Sorenson recommends families in business draft a family constitution that creates boundaries between the business and the family, such as making policies about qualifications to work in the business and installing a non-family member as a manager between generations.

“There’s a tendency for families to be in one another’s hair all of the time,” Sorenson said. “If they define positions, make people responsible for those positions as you would in a normal business — that tends to help.”

Originally published: 05/27/2013, Finance and Commerce