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Preserving a Marriage: There is a danger in husbands and wives working together. All too often, business discussions continue at home and into the evening. Some couples manage their lives with this continuous exposure to business, while others find that it is invasive and intrudes into family matters. Without clear boundaries, separating the business and the marriage, there can be unhealthy consequences to the marriage.

Children Involved in the Business: It may not be evident to parents in a family-owned business; children involved in the business are highly competitive. Often what underlies disputes among siblings is long-term unresolved issues. Communication is essential for children to work together and prosper in business.

Intervening in Family Disputes: More often than anyone would like to admit, alcohol and other substances are a problem in the workplace. Unfortunately, this creates friction and hard feelings among family business principals. While family members wish to be tolerant of problems with other family members, company employees are quite interested in how the family will approach and resolve their problems.

Hiring Your Own: Integrating family members into the business requires some important planning. Structuring a job description and assigning someone other than family to provide supervision is essential. How this is organized and presented is crucial to successfully bringing family members into the business.

Succession Planning and Principal Retirement: Succession planning for emergencies or for a principal retirement can be of great importance to maintaining business continuity. Choosing the right successor is an outcome of hard work evaluating family member candidates or outside talent. No one should be a shoo-in without experiencing the rigorous assessment for readiness and an educational plan developed to get your choice ready to take over without your assistance.

Planning and Reflection: Family Business Retreats are one of the best ways to help family members gain perspective about the family business. It is an excellent opportunity to air and resolve unique issues affecting all family members, not just those involved in the business. In a retreat, all family members will be able to focus immediate concerns, plan future business events, and exchange a reconnection with other family members.

DISCLAIMER: Dr. Northington will personally answer all questions relating to family business management issues. He will not answer questions relating to complex analytical mental health questions or medical questions.


Marshall W. Northington, Ph.D.
San Rafael Medical Town Offices
6612 East Carondelet Drive
Tucson, Arizona 85710 USA
Telephone: 520-886-6588
Fax: 520-885-6500
E-mail: career2@mindspring.com