The same issues of sibling rivalry, resentment, and control that can put a damper on any family get-together can also bleed over into a family owned business, said Oklahoma City psychologist Alan Campbell.
Campbell specializes in family business dynamics. His Oklahoma City practice, Family Business Resources, offers counseling for business owners and the professional advisers who work with them, including bankers, lawyers, and accountants.
The Oklahoma City office of financial services provider MassMutual has a partnership with Campbell’s practice. The two firms, which are next door to each other in the Gaillardia Office Park team up to offer family business forums in which family-owned businesses can discuss their issues and work out a succession plan.
When a business owner prepares to retire and pass down a business to a younger relative, it can often cause animosity between family members, Campbell said.
“When there are two children and mom and dad have to decide which one of those kids will run business, you can see how that might be difficult to make that choice,” he said.
A lack of good communication and differing expectations between generations also can cause animosity.
“Some of the challenges that family business go through basically cluster around communication problems and being able to resolve conflicts,” Campbell said.
Campbell strives to help family members who run a business together communicate better. Recently, he began working to smooth over a family dispute between the 80-year-old owner of a construction business and his son as stock in the family business is transferred to the son. The transition hasn’t gone smoothly and father and son are no longer on speaking terms. Campbell is trying to rebuild trust between the father and son.