Strategies for Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution skills are key to maintaining relationships in the family and the family business. Family feuds can often cause irreparable damage to both the business and the family.  Some of the more common family business conflicts are:


            Management Roles

            Ownership Percentages

            Business Goals

            Recognition of contributions to results

How to prevent the conflicts

It is necessary to have a good grasp on how the business will be managed and operated in order to prevent conflicts from starting.  Leadership roles should be assigned and an outside consultant should be brought in to help oversee and manage.

Stop Rivalry

One of the best ways to handle conflict resolution is by writing a conflict resolution plan that all parties agree to.  Use the plan as a guide as to what duties will be performed and by whom.  Consider paying all family members fairly based on their job description and workload and make everyone privy.


Conducting personnel evaluations is an excellent opportunity for improvement for all family members and within the business.  This should not, however, be used to find fault.  Show how each individual can improve their performance and it they will be compensated for it.

Stress Management

Stress management and anger management techniques are vital for all involved and especially for those who work from home.  It is easy to become reactive when family conflicts come up.  A conflict resolution plan should be available and referred to during stressful situations.

Regular Meetings

Holding regular meetings are a must.  Employees and family members should all be present at these meetings.  Discuss everything rationally and invite others to state their feelings as well.  It is advisable to bring in a neutral facilitator to help negotiate ill feelings. 

By implementing a few of the above resolution strategies integrating your family and your family business can be successful.

As a founder and Chairman of The Family Business Council of Greater New York, I have extensive experience in working with family businesses and help them resolve their conflicts.  I recall one member telling me, “If we could only run our business with our heads instead of our hearts, we’d be a lot more successful.”