Business Mentoring for Your Kids

Nonfamily mentors may be the best way to prepare the next generation.

"Father knows best" doesn't always work when it comes to mentoring the heir apparent to a family business. Sometimes the parent-child relationship is too close, too stormy or too subjective for a learning environment to flourish. Still, the successor has to learn the business. One alternative to parent-as-tutor is the use of nonfamily managers to act as mentors to the up-and-coming leader or leaders. Nonfamily managers offer a distinct advantage in that they can be objective and more businesslike in preparing the junior generation for succession.

"If a family business decides to use nonfamily managers as mentors, they have to develop a well-defined, well-structured mentoring plan," says Ed Hoover, co-founder and president of LSi Resource for Family Business Management, an Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, family-business consulting firm. Otherwise, the whole process becomes enmeshed in personalities or entangled by family feuds.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Family Business.

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