For you to perform and feel fulfilled at work, the company should be an organization that you are proud of and excited to be a part of due to its mission, values, culture, and the value it delivers. It should be sustainable so it’s a good long-term bet for your career. There should be opportunities for advancement. All too often, family members overlook this kind of analysis when it comes to their family company, mainly because they have “grown up in the business” and assume they know everything they need to know about it.
Take time to collect and write down the data below about your family business. Be prepared to adjust your assumptions and expectations according to the facts you learn.
- Company performance and organization
- How attractive is the industry (or industries) the family company competes in or invests in? Is the industry being threatened by technological disruption or other forces, and is the company well positioned for this?
- How is the company performing in its industry (or industries)? Is the company’s business model well suited for the future? What do I think about the strategic direction of the company and its position in the industry?
- Is the company’s organization structure well suited for the future? How well is management operating the business? How well are strategic, board-level decisions being handled?
- Company mission, values, and culture
- What are the company’s mission (purpose) and vision for the future?
- Do I feel comfortable with the values of the company?
- What is the company’s culture? What is it like to work there? Would it excite me?
- Career paths and talent development in the family business today.
- What career paths are currently available to family members? What skills, experience and qualifications are needed to perform well in these roles?
- How, and how often, are family employees’ performance evaluated?
- Is there a pool of younger talent ready to take higher responsibilities? Is talent development in the company given enough attention?
- Family employment policies (formal or informal)
- Some family companies welcome qualified and interested family members into roles within the business. Others strategically limit family employees to senior management or board roles. What approach does my family take?
- Some family companies have specific policies about family hiring and qualifications. What does my family company have, whether formally written or informally understood?
- Who is involved in the hiring process of a family member? Who makes the final decision about the hire?
With this clear picture of your family business as a potential future employer, compare it to your professional goals, priorities, capabilities, and interests (identified above). How well-suited is the company, as an organization, to help you thrive professionally? Will it be a good fit professionally?