It is generally recognized that family firms are different from all other types of companies due to the moral responsibility of those in charge to safeguard the common welfare of the family, and to the tight relationships between those working in the firm. Professor Miguel Angel Gallo of IESE argues that the preparation of the next generation for a career in the family business should take these features of family business into account. It should also be designed for the type of business that the family wishes to develop, because that is what is going to define family members´ positions in the firm. And it should always include ownership training. The author uses a real-life case to illustrate his arguments.
Gallo considers that the preparation of the younger generation for a career in the family firm should encompass three dimensions: education, experience, and career training.
Education should include training at home, at school, and at university. At home, one learns to either love or hate the family business, and to embrace or reject the values of the company culture. In choosing schools and universities for the younger generation, it is important to realize that some are better than others at training people for the responsibilities of family business.
The next generation also needs broader experience in order to appreciate what is specific to the family firm, including key people, competitive advantages, competitors, business practices, etc.; and also in order to acquire basic management skills. The author considers it highly recommendable that family members work in another company for a period before joining the family firm.
Gallo believes that the chance to further one´s career more quickly in a family business than in a non-family business is the main reason why some very able managers who are not family members actually stay on. The prerequisites for any successful career training include: identifying the personal qualities (know-how, attitudes) that need to be developed and acquired in order for a person to give the family business community his or her best; a schedule (job rotation, promotion, training) for that person to follow in order to attain those qualities; and frequent professional assignments.
The author also gives a few guidelines for preparing the next generation to become shareholders and directors of the family firm.