I had the pleasure of speaking at the Family Enterprise Xchange Forum last week. The biggest benefit of being a speaker at these events is that – while I was there to share my story – I also got to listen to the experiences of others.

The forum was aimed at addressing how to maintain a strong foundation in your family-run business. We heard from a couple of 3rd generation business owners: Paul Higgins of Mother Parkers Tea and James Schlegel Jr. of Schlegel Villages to name a couple. Both talked about their successes and what they felt were the reasons they were able to beat the odds and have a successful family enterprise ready for 4th generation leaders.

My takeaways from those discussions are the following:

Importance of the employee

It was clear from listening to these two that they deeply understand the importance of their employees in the success of their corporations. They see their role as leaders to ensure that the organization is working to support frontline workers and provide them with the resources they need to deliver on their customer’s expectations.

Culture that embodies the corporate values

Both organizations continue to stress the corporate values that have lasted through the 1st and 2nd generations. They have regular discussions with employees about the corporate values and how they can make those values part of the way each employee handles their responsibilities and interacts with customers.

Professional development that drives succession

Neither leader gave you the impression that they were satisfied with the status quo. They expressed a healthy interest in seeking more knowledge about their business by witnessing firsthand how their staff handles day to day issues. Armed with this research, they can plan staff development and place future leaders in the right roles so that they are ready to meet the succession needs of the organization.

As an HR professional, these all make sense and align with the positioning I take with my clients.

Engaged employees deliver superior customer service resulting in increased cash flow through repeat business or referrals.

I was fortunate to experience the wisdom of these business leaders. Now, I’d like to ask you: Are you doing the right things to create a culture of engagement with your employee group?

Mike Dick

Human Resources


Visit Osborne-group.com for other Principals’ ideas and opinions on a range of topics. The Osborne Group provides interim executive management, consulting and project support across all sectors and over a broad scope of service areas.

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