5 Ways in which a Mentor Could Benefit Your Family Business

The name, legacy, reputation and network of a successful family business are all major assets, assets of which all companies strive to eventually achieve. However less commonplace people deem family businesses to be, a sizeable number of such organisations still exist. In this blog, we look at 5 ways in which your family business could benefit from the onboarding of a mentorship programme.


Managing the Management:

Sometimes traditional family businesses can struggle to keep up with new age companies and organisations. Competitive packages, fresher perspectives and enticing perks are all contributing factors towards the shift in people’s attitudes towards modernised companies. Ultimately, this is posing a serious threat for family business’ ability to attract new talent for continued success. When livelihoods and savings are tied up in group decisions, adding family to the management mix can make challenges such as these even more difficult to overcome. Having a mentor can lift the cloudiness and confusion that sometimes surrounds addressing issues such as these. Mentoring for all levels of staff, including senior management, can streamline business processes and eliminate the frustration often associated with there being a ‘pecking order’. By dispelling hierarchical structures, an even and fair mentoring programme can be seamlessly rolled out. It also elevates group morale and bonding, as people are learning and growing at the same pace. Mentoring can help shape a more inclusive and progressive workplace, something all businesses, family or not, should strive to achieve.


It’s not personal, it’s business:  

It goes without saying that it is next to impossible to remove emotion from any kind of dealings with family. A trifecta of anger, jealousy and frustration will inevitably filter into relationships at some stage. The objective and non-partisan stance of the mentor can help mediate family business in situations where emotions are high. It is undoubtedly easier to accept critical feedback from an objective outsider. At the end of the day, the main objective of mentoring is to provide a fair and accurate performance measurement reflective of what is best for the business, not what is best for the family. Not letting emotion or past conflicts override best practice is key in ensuring a company’s ability to benchmark their future self. Facilitating dispute resolution can help in teaching people how to not focus on matters personal to them, and instead channel their energy into doing what’s best for the future of the family business.


Fair is Fair:

What can often be a bone of contention for people working within a family business is the subject matter of role adoption. Far too often family members are assigned titles and roles for which, not only are they unsuited towards, but worse, they’re eminently unqualified. It is common knowledge that wherein lies family business, lies nepotism. Developing a coalition through offering undeserved positions as a means of strengthening your own is, in essence, betraying your company and its people. In situations like this, a mentor’s input is absolutely invaluable.  Mentors can accurately and fairly appoint people to positions because of capability and suitability, not because of familial ranking. They can assess the value and strengths of each employee and, in the best interest of the company, align them to worthy positions within which they will strive. By being able to correctly assess the needs of the company and how they can be achieved through appropriate employee positioning, a mentor can alleviate the tension and conflictions often associated with nepotism.


Plan for Success with Succession Planning:  

Succession planning is a strategy for identifying and developing future leaders within your organisation. For reasons including nepotism and failure to recognise and tap into in-house talent, there is generally a notable lack of succession planning within family businesses. By only focusing on upskilling and advancing family members, businesses tend to lose key talent to competition, as their progression and career trajectory is seen to be of less importance. Succession planning can also be hindered due to an unwillingness to make uncomfortable decisions, such as assigning people to new positions and discussing the retirement of senior management.

Through the onboarding of a mentor, this can put the company succession plan into motion. Mentors can help in mediating the nepotism that can often hinder the personal and professional development of those whose views and ideas are overlooked by senior management. By guiding a family business, the mentor can advise on the timing of a succession plan, identify who will eventually lead the company whilst at every step ensuring the inclusion and consideration of all employees across all levels.


The Social Network

It’s not always the case, but a lot of family businesses tend to ‘keep to themselves’ and in doing so, inhibit their networking opportunities. Broadening your professional circle is important for family companies who themselves might only be familiar in dealing with the same people. Family businesses shouldn’t assume that word of mouth is suffice. Not only can a mentor open the door to opportunity for networking and collaboration, but what’s even more beneficial is the visibility afforded to you as a result of your mentor-mentee relationship. Through employing a mentorship programme, you are essentially telling a wider network of people that you want to get to know them. Mentors can also equip you with the training and tools that you need to keep expanding on your network pool. Introductions are just the first step. Mentoring can train you to ask the right questions, adopt the right approach, follow up accordingly and, most importantly, maintain valuable relationships. Being able to routinely and seamlessly network could be the first step in securing and growing your family business.  


To discuss obtaining a mentor for your family business, please contact Ronan Harbison on +353 86 805 8624 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Ronan Harbison

Ronan Harbison

Commercial Director