Joining the family business as a next generation successor or potential successor often comes with a number of expectations and assumptions from both the next gen and the current generation in place within the business.

Even if there is no clear succession plan in writing, the current generation family member(s) running the business probably has a vision for the future and how they would like the business to be operated.

One of the key challenges of managing the next generation succession is achieving effective communication between the generations; communication that helps to establish clear expectations from the outset and facilitates a smooth and realistic transition plan in order to maximise the chances of the succession working.

With only 30% of UK family-run businesses surviving the transition to the second generation and 10% to the third, family businesses must do all they can to mitigate risk and smooth the way, accepting that unexpected circumstances will always play a part in the challenge.

Although effective succession requires a degree of shared vision and long-term goals for the business between the generations, often the complexities arise when different generations possess different skills, opinions and interests. These coupled with changing business context can disrupt the best intentions.

Through our engagement within the family business community and through the running of our family business events, we have seen and heard many accounts of the challenges faced by next gens in the early transition stages. From this, we recognised a need to provide specialist advice and support to them at this critical time and to encourage them to form ongoing support networks with their peers.

Following in the footsteps of the current generation can be a daunting prospect laden with responsibility. There is the day to day running of the business to learn, encounters with co-workers and business relationships to build. Many next gens will also have to face a new type of difficult conversation with their family members – this time on all matters of business topics. From business strategy and operations to pay and ownership, being able to hold productive conversations is a vital skill.

Our Next Generation workshop event, ‘The future’s here…it’s time to talk’ addresses just that. Developed by a trio of organisations that support family businesses (Thomas Jardine & Co, Be the Business and The Family Business Network), the workshop is designed for new or recent next gens or for those thinking about joining the family business. With a relaxed format, the workshop encourages like-minded next gens to open up about their business experiences and discuss the unique challenges of communication in family businesses.

The theme centres around how to talk about the future of the business and how to approach those necessary and important conversations that can be all too easily avoided. The workshop will also support the next gens to develop their skills and personal development for the ultimate benefit of the business.

Being able to discuss real-life business scenarios in small peer groups offers numerous benefits including shared learnings, identifying a common support requirement or need and developing a peer support network.

We still have availability for those interested in our forthcoming Next Gen Workshop in Liverpool on 17 March. Full details can be found here.