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Giving Feedback to an Underperformer in the Family Business


Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Not everyone in a family business is a top performer. Some family members may feel entitled and slack off; others may think they’ll get a pass for their mistakes. How do you give someone feedback in these situations?

o Start the discussion by asking questions that will help you understand how the person sees their work and what they want to contribute. Listen carefully, and then respond with a kind but unambiguous description of the expectations of their role. Doing this will set the stage for you to offer further comments about their performance.

o If the family dynamic makes the conversation too risky or uncomfortable, consider having a third party convey the feedback instead. On the other hand, it may be that the person isn’t a good fit for their role. In that case, think about where in the company the person’s skills would be useful.

Remember to show respect for the person’s ties to the family, while being candid about what you expect as their boss.

This tip is adapted from Managing an Underperformer in a Family Business,” by Liz Kislik

Here’s a direct link to dozens of other Management Tips.


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