Runnning a Multi-Family Business

Decision-Making And Conflict Resolution

"When it comes to making major decisions or implementing new ideas at New England Coffee, our executive team-five of us are members of the [owning] families, and two are nonfamily members-talks it through. We look at the issues as a team, decide what's best for the company and then reach a consensus," says Kaloyanides.

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Although each two-family business has its own unique and often idiosyncratic way of making decisions and resolving conflicts, Aronoff recommends that two-family businesses establish a board of outside advisors. "It can be extremely helpful in clarifying positions and giving guidance on potentially divisive issues," he says. "And it can weigh in when there's a stalemate." Retreats and forum meetings, which encourage the participation of members from both families, provide the opportunity to develop good business policies, enhance communication and foster goodwill.

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This article was originally published in the June 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Team Effort?.

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