Often members of the youngest generation in a family enterprise sit back and wait for someone in the older generation to tell them what role they can fill within the family business. When they don’t get a tap on the shoulder with a request to join in, they can become frustrated and negative. The business didn’t get to where it is today by sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Success was likely related to pursing an objective with passion, and staying aligned with values.
Rather than feeling neglected or incapable, a next generation family member benefits from looking at themself as a work in progress, with resources from the family that can support their development. In order to have a positive impact in the business, or the family, it helps to have something concrete to offer which will be respected by others. It’s important to explore what competencies and skills need to be developed in order to be credible within the family enterprise. Take a thoughtful approach to choices about how time is spent, what would be good to learn, and who you are. Explore the world and look for where your passion is ignited. Look for ways to develop a set of capabilities in other work environments, so that when you present your great ideas to your family there is a reason for people to pay attention.
By exploring, learning and developing yourself outside the family and the family business, you have much more added value.
When you come back to the family with something to offer, take baby steps. Begin by having conversations with those in your own generation, with the intention of developing meaningful connections. Then start a dialogue with the older generation and present ideas from the younger generation. In a healthy family system, the younger generation doesn’t need to ask for permission if ideas are presented respectfully, and within the parameters of how the family operates. By bringing useful insights to the family, you may help in creating an empowered next generation.