Professionalizing the Family Business

Bernie Kliska

What is the meaning of the term professionalizing?  For some families, professionalization means transparency and accountability; for others, it means more formal structures and systems, yet for others it suggests they have a non-family CEO….  But are these always an improvement on what came before?

One of the issues with the idea of “professionalization” is that it is based on assumptions.  One assumption is that the family business is not already professional.   Second is that other models of business are better than the one they have and if they duplicate it, it will improve their enterprise.  Neither of these assumptions are necessarily true. 

There is often a perception that family businesses are not professional.  However there are many family businesses that are incredibly professional. The meaning of “professionalization” should not be whether a family member or non-family member heads the enterprise.  Instead, it should be a company that exhibits high standards of performance and ethics. 

One should not fall in the trap of assuming that the way to make your business more professional is to get rid of family members who are employees. The word “professional” implies strong leadership that nurtures formal processes for setting clear goals and rules, appraising employees performance, hiring based on ability to contribute, and promoting based on merit.  If that is what you have – you have a well-managed business, and that is the key to long-term success for any enterprise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.