As they evolve through the decades and across generations, how should family businesses recruit and manage talent?
Most family businesses need to attract skilled staff from outside the family. This helps them secure the full breadth of skills and perspectives they need. And it ensures that the business can continue to thrive if young family business members decide that their future lies elsewhere.
However, securing top non-family talent is not a straightforward task. It requires family businesses to create an environment in which skilled and independent-minded people can flourish.
Businesses should also nurture the talent that exists within the family. They need to develop the younger generations, who have grown up with the business and who live and breathe the family’s values. And they must continue to make the most of older family members, who can provide support and mentoring, drawing on their years of experience.
So should family and non-family members be treated differently when it comes to recruitment and retention strategies?
There’s no single answer to finding and developing talent, but there’s much we can we learn from the approaches that have worked for some of the world’s leading family businesses.
Nurturing all of your employees
The value of nurturing family and non-family talent alike is well-recognized at British family business William Jackson Food Group. Nicholas Oughtred, the company Chairman, says: “You need to constantly invest in all your people, whether they are family members or not. It is incumbent on us as a family to make positions in the company as challenging, interesting and rewarding as we can.”
One example of how William Jackson makes this investment is in encouraging all its senior managers — family and non-family — to enroll in an executive course at Harvard Business School.
And the achievements of William Jackson’s non-family CEO, Norman Soutar, demonstrate the benefits of this widely supportive approach: his 10 years at the company have seen a 200% rise in revenues.
Onboarding non-family members
But how can family businesses better integrate non-family members into the organization?
Here are some common approaches from top family business leaders: