On a recent post titled Family Business Challenge: Attitude of Entitlement, I asked people to share what they do in their family to avoid an attitude of entitlement and also what and how they are teaching the next generation to “Prepare” and to “Protect.” The response was great and some wonderful tips and best practices were shared.
One of those responses came from Phil Clemens, CEO of Clemens Family Corporation (i.e. Hatfield Quality Meats) and a regular reader of The Exuberant Accountant. I did a feature post on Phil last April which you can read by clicking this link. Phil often speaks and coaches on family business issues and he is someone I respect tremendously. With his permission, I share some wonderful insights from him and the Clemens Family.
Some of the things we do are:
1. I teach the next generation, potential leaders a course I call "Lessons in Leadership." It is all about character and very little about business knowledge. I constantly try to remind them that managing their compass and their clock are extremely important. Part of this is understanding their high risk areas - traits and habits that will take them down and building accountability with someone to keep them focused on the right things. I try to have them understand the cost of leadership - while many only want to see the benefits.
2. We have annual meetings with shareholders from 12 years and up to teach them what the business is all about. We continually remind them of our heritage and our core values and how this drives everything we do. We try to engage our shareholders to make it their job to train the next generations - we are only there to help and encourage.
3. We involve the next generations in our community projects where they learn to give and help others as a representative of our business - not what they are only getting from the business (i.e. the business gives back). Over the past month, we had very young shareholders - as young as 5 help serve meals at Salvation Army shelters and rescue missions. It is a great tool to show generosity and caring. We also allow our shareholders to buy some of our products to give to others - or to donate and let us find people in need. This year our shareholders gave away over 1,100 hams that they purchased to give to others.
4. We have just begun another program where families who are employed in the business will reach out and get to know the next generations (5th and 6th) family members to let them know what we do and try to interest them in considering the business as a career. However, the clear message is that we only hire qualified people - don't think your name, relationship or being a shareholder will get you a job. If you aren't qualified, you won't be hired - however, if you are qualified we would certainly like you to consider us as a place to build a career.
Thank you Phil for sharing these excellent ideas.