Last month we launched our initial ‘quick survey’ of Family Business Advisor (FBA) readers and our own FBCG advisors to get some feedback from our audience about their experience with the article’s topic. Last month’s FBA newsletter touched on the difficult topic of bullying. While we did not get many answers – the responses are of interest.
1) Just over half of our readers felt family-owned businesses encounter MORE bullying than publicly-traded companies – YET when we asked our advisors what percentage of their family business clients struggled with bullying issues, about 35% said none and a further 25% said 20% or less of their clients had bullying issues of which they were aware. This suggests that perhaps readers who have struggled with this challenge in their own business might have been more inclined to participate.
2) When asked to identify ‘who’ was the bully most often in a family-owned business, there was a wide range of specific responses (sibling, parent, child, etc.), but most answers fell in categories of family members who were involved in the business. This response pattern was true of readers and of advisors. Likewise, when asked who the victim was – both sets of respondents indicated family members were most often the victims in these situations. These answers suggest that a lot of the bullying in family businesses is intra-family bullying, putting the additional emotional load of family connection (on top of the power issues that are often involved in these situations) into the toxic soup of bullying.
3) If we consider who is doing the bullying and who is the victim of bullying in family business, it is not surprising to read many comments from readers telling us that in their situation: ‘the bullying was not fully handled,’ ‘that person is now in charge,’ ‘the behavior is being enabled by other family members…’. These are disconcerting comments and give us a sense of how toxic it can be when there is bullying in a family business.
We deeply appreciate everyone’s participation in these ‘mini-surveys’ (only 3 or 4 questions, very fast to complete) and hope readers gain some additional insights alongside us as we seek to hear from readers about their lived experienced with these complex topics. We hope many folks will take a couple of minutes to answer the survey related to this months’ article – and as always, if you are interested in learning more about how the Family Business Consulting Group, Inc. may be a resource to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Gratefully, the Family Business Advisor…