Two generations learn to work together

Fathers and sons have different perspectives. Here’s how they make business partnerships work.

When David Grossman decided the family surgical practice needed a website, his father resisted. “He just thinks differently and couldn’t see the benefits.” But David pressed on. He showed his dad how the website could help patients access forms, learn about possible complications and share experiences. “Now, he sees that it’s an important component of our medical practice.”

Such generational differences are happening in workplaces across the country, but in father-son businesses, the stakes are high. Despite a turbulent few years, family businesses remain a substantial force in the national and global economies. But keeping the business in the family takes the ability to work through assumptions, expectations and differences. The fact is, only one-third of family-owned businesses survive to the second generation.

For fathers and sons, the dynamics are complex. “The level of emotion that exists in a father and son business can be profound,” says Drew Mendoza, managing principal of The Family Business Consulting Group in Chicago.

Today’s Gen X sons think differently than their boomer dads. They bring technology skills and innovation to most workplaces, along with a desire for work-life balance. While dads still bring experience and passion, many struggle to understand a mindset where productivity doesn’t necessarily mean facetime. Even more, the relationship between fathers and sons who work together today tends to differ from the past: many consider themselves partners rather than mentor-mentee.

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Read: “Two generations learn to work together“, an article by The Miami Herald.

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