Conflict between the Generations?



Families in business together face a unique set of conflicts between the older and younger generations. These conflicts set them apart from non-family competitors (as well as from families which are not in business together).

Conflicting Goals – Members of each generation typically have a unique set of goals for the business, their immediate family, and themselves. These differences can lead to disappointment among the senior generation in the choices their offspring make, particularly if offspring choose to leave the business.

Different Work and Life Styles – Work styles change over time, and each generation is likely to develop a work style that is unique, sometimes appreciated by another generation, sometimes not. Personal life styles and values can also differ significantly between members of different generations. The older generation may experience anger and frustration over perceived inadequate work habits of their offspring.

Conflict over Control – The older generation may not be ready to shift control to new generation, leading to frustration by the younger generation about their lack of control or influence at the firm.

Leaving the Nest – Young adult sons and daughters who stay in the family business have additional hurtles to cross in their attempts to create a new family for themselves. They often feel their shift to adulthood is scrutinized "under the family microscope".