Book Review: Inside the Multi-Generational Family Business
Book Review: Â Inside the Multi-Generational Family Business
Family Business Review recently ran an interesting book review, by Jane Hilburt-Davis, of M.T. Green’s bookÂ Inside the Multi-Generational Family Business: 9 Symptoms ofÂ Generational Stack-Up and How to Cure Them. Â Writes Hilburt-Davis:
Green introduces a new conceptual framework, the syndrome of â€śgenerational stack-up,â€ť defining it as â€śthe convergence of several generations as owners, managers, employees, and shareholdersâ€ť working together. He maintains that â€śstack-upâ€ťâ€”the clash of generational values and perspectivesâ€”is a big problem in general and for family businesses specifically. The reasons, he writes are (a) weâ€™re living longer, (b) weâ€™re working to an older age, and (c) weâ€™re building more family businesses.
The first chapter describes the generations and their characteristics that get â€śstacked-upâ€ť: the GIs (â€śSave for a rainy dayâ€ť); the Silent Generation (â€śLive within your meansâ€ť); Baby Boomers (â€śWe can have it allâ€ť), Generation X (â€śDo it yourselfâ€ť), and Generation Y or Millennials (â€śDo it for usâ€ť). Then, in each of the chapters from 2 to 10, he describes the nine â€śsymptomsâ€ť of generational differences and their treatment. The symptoms are as follows:
â€˘ Control beyond the grave: This usually affects members of the Silent and GI generations who have been through a lot (economic depression, several wars, booming global economy), While the legacy of earlier generation is often a very positive and valuable influence for a family business, by clinging excessively to control through life and, yes, even after death, these cohorts can stifle the growth of later generations and the business.
â€˘ Whoâ€™s (or whatâ€™s) your daddy?: Each generation has seen the role of the father differently, from the pure breadwinner to the jack-of-alltrades we see now. The result for fathers and their family business is confusion, conflict, and frustration, with men in the business disagreeing about workâ€“life balance and Gen X dads feeling like theyâ€™re falling short as professionals, fathers, husbands, and sons, with zero time for friends and hobbies.
â€˘ Battle of the superwomen: Women of the Boomer Generation fought to build strong careers. Their Gen X daughters had an easier time climbing the corporate ladder or finding a place in the family businessâ€”often reporting to their moms or working alongside them. Now, â€śdiscrepant generation- based expectations about motherhood, management, and other topics cause these strong women to clash, with negative implications for the business and the family.â€ť
â€˘ Meet the MEOWs: Gen X women seem to have it all but, just like their counterparts, Gen X men, they are cursed with too many choices: whether to focus on management, motherhood, makeovers, or all of them, and many of them donâ€™t feel like theyâ€™re succeeding in any of their roles. â€śWhatâ€™s more, their moms, many of whom gave up or limited their own careers to stay at home, pressure them overtly or subtly to take on specific rolesâ€”the ones they themselves took on or left behind.â€ť
Read the full review here.