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Establishing an Open-Door Policy

When nonfamily employees talk, listen.

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This story appears in the January 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Just because nonfamily employees don't share the same last name as the people who own the doesn't mean they don't have ideas, comments or even criticisms that would be beneficial to your . But do they share these with you? And if they do, do you really listen to what they're saying?

"If the is closed, and employees sense that the family thinks it can do no wrong or that it's not open to constructive input, employees stop talking," says Paul Karofsky, executive director of the Northeastern University Center for Family Business in . What ends up resulting from the lack of communication is a decrease in , people leaving the company for other jobs and little long-term commitment. Karofsky asks, "Who'd want to work for such a company?"

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