Is 2022 the year my Dad finally talks about me taking over the family business?

communication difficult conversations getting started succession top tips Jan 04, 2022

By Amalia Brightley-Gillott

If you've been working in your family business for a few years now, you're probably starting to think about taking on much more responsibility. Not to mention the possibility that maybe, one day, you could be leading the business when your Dad retires. 

Let's be honest, it's in your blood. Even though many of your employees have probably been there longer than you, they just don't 'get it' like you do. 

They weren't there in the school holidays packing boxes and stuffing envelopes. They weren't there when your parents had to remortgage their house and take out a huge loan just to keep things afloat. They don't hear your Dad's inner-thoughts, grumblings and new ideas around the dinner table on a Sunday. 

That's what makes a family business so unique. It's not just led by one person. It involves an entire family. And you're the next generation, waiting in the wings, with a fire in your belly to take the business to the next level. 

But your Dad's not showing any sign of slowing down. Let alone retiring. 

So as we embark on another brand new year, do you really want to spend the next 12 months wondering if or when you might take a bigger leadership role?

Or would you like 2022 to be the year you start having honest, practical conversations with your Dad about his plans for the future?

I know it might feel a bit sensitive or awkward, so here are 4 simple ways to get started without rocking the boat with your Dad:

1. Take your Dad out for a drink, a bite to eat or to walk the dog. Somewhere away from the business and any distractions. Make sure it's just the two of you and tell him you've been thinking about some ideas around the future of the company and would like to talk to him about it. Keep it light-weight and casual so there's not too much pressure. It's just the first chat. 

2. Before you dive in, first ask him what he wants. Does he want to carry on working full time? Would he like to step back a little and enjoy some more personal time? Which parts of his role does he really enjoy and which parts cause him stress? He's probably never taken the time to stop and think about these things before. 

3. Let him know you're ready and eager to step-up to more responsibility. I've met so many parents who were afraid of talking about the future because they didn't want to put any pressure on their kids. Yet their kids didn't talk about wanting to take over because they didn't want their parents to feel redundant or unappreciated. It's a vicious circle if you don't communicate honestly with each other. 

4. If it feels right, suggest you make these 'meetings' a regular thing. They can stay quite informal for now whilst you both brainstorm what you'd like to happen over the next few years. Assigning dedicated time to talk about succession (even just once a month) will ensure it doesn't become the elephant in the room. You want to get to a stage where you and your Dad both feel comfortable talking about. 

Want to chat with me? I'm always on hand for some friendly (free) advice. I've been helping families with succession planning for nearly 15 years so there's isn't anything I haven't seen. Call/text me on 07590 830 001 or email me [email protected]


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