You’ve sorted through the field of potential successors and have made a final decision. Good for you. Your successor is thrilled, but what about the other candidates?

Of course, several of them will either remain in their current positions or transition to other roles within the company. But, as is often the case, a few of them won’t.

Transition is coming, and someone’s about to be left out in the cold.

For family business owners, this represents a problem on multiple levels. Terminating an employee is no light thing, but when that employee also happens to be a brother or a cousin, the ramifications can dog the family and the company for years to come.

The way you communicate this decision with the individual and the organization can significantly impact the success of your transition. That said, three crucial goals need to be set for these conversations:

  1. Preserve the relationship between the owner and the individual.
  2. Support the individual as they move forward in their career.
  3. Craft a positive story for the benefit of the organization.

If the conversation doesn’t happen—that is, if you simply let the employee go—then not only will there be discord in the family but the entire organization as well. Stories will be told, rumors will swirl, loyalties will be fractured, and unity will begin to dissolve.

None of these conditions sets the stage for healthy succession.

However, if you commit to serving these employees and the organization through open dialogue, you can head potential problems off at the pass.

By taking the time to discuss the situation, you can set your employee up for success in the future. Moreover, you can affirm for them and the organization that the decision has been made in good faith for the benefit of everyone involved.

Are you getting ready to make a decision about succession? Have you thought about how you’ll break the news to employees who aren’t chosen as a successor? Check out our step-by-step conversation guide for help navigating the topic of releasing a family member.


succession strength logoSuccession Strength, Inc helps family businesses assess their succession readiness and overcome their transition hurdles.