Key Questions for Conflict Resolution in a Family Business

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Kent Rhodes

To effectively address the interpersonal conflicts in family business, it is important to understand and address the unique challenges that occur when families simultaneously work to build a multi-generational enterprise, work to give back to their communities, and share financial assets that benefit both the family and its individual members.

Traditional approaches of conflict resolution have their roots primarily in the legal and family counseling fields and as such, tend to present overly simplistic ways to “resolve” conflicts that are common to families in business together. In order to figure out a realistic approach to these unique challenges, it can be helpful to first consider: 

  • Which conflicts need to be managed rather than “resolved”?
  • Can we clearly define the conflict in a way that everyone’s perspective is included?
  • Are we willing to explore every option to address a conflict?
  • Can we think about long term “fixes” versus quick ones?
  • How might we maximize opportunities for learning and increased relationships that addressing conflict can offer a family? 

These questions require you to widen your frame and set yourself up to find lasting and comprehensive solutions.

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