• Trevor Dickinson

FATHER-SON WORK RELATIONSHIPS - THERE ARE ALWAYS TWO POINTS OF VIEW

Updated: Apr 28

Since the dawn of history fathers and sons have worked together with varying degrees of happiness and success. Stories of father-son conflict as well as inspiring tales of loyalty and triumph are numerous. Family members often find themselves in multiple roles when they work together. Thus, this work relationship is much more complex than that of two unrelated people.



What do fathers complain about most often?

  • My son is too much in a hurry to take over responsibilities.

  • My son is not ready yet for more responsibility.

  • He wants to change the way we do things, the way I know works.

  • He wants to take too many chances and risk the family business, which I, and my father before me, built from nothing with so much effort and so many sacrifices.

  • He does not appreciate what I have accomplished.

  • He does not trust my judgement and experience.

  • He is better educated than I am, but I have graduated from the University of Hard Knocks.

  • Most of what he knows is from books.

  • He wants to change the goals and objectives of the family business.

  • He wants to push aside the managers who have been loyal to me since we began, who came with me and trusted me when I had nothing.

What do sons complain about most often?

  • My father is stuck in his ways of doing things. He does not understand what needs to be done nowadays.

  • Father does not give me any authority. When he does, he countermands it, goes over my head.

  • Father does not respect my judgement.

  • Father does not treat employees in a respectful, professional way.

  • Father does not recognize that he is no longer able to run the show.

  • Father uses the work situation to teach me how to live. It makes me feel like a little boy all over again.

Clearly fathers and sons pay attention to different things in their work associations. There are a small number of aspects that strongly influence the quality of work in a relationship between any two people; whether it is healthy (productive, comfortable, and enjoyable), or unhealthy (unproductive, difficult, and painful).


Conflict is unavoidable, even in the closest families and the best run family farms. Because individuals have had different life experiences, they are likely to have varying opinions about the "right" way to do things. If these views are strong enough, a clash will inevitably result when another person challenges them.


Successful families learn to manage such differences. Indeed, they are apt to find that discussion of alternative viewpoints often leads to constructive change. Yet many busy executives don’t know how to handle conflict. Family business owners who never developed conflict-resolution skills may hesitate to put interpersonal issues on the table for fear that the mere articulation of their feelings will damage their relationship with the other party.

Family Legacies www.family-legacies.com is a multidisciplinary family business consulting company. Our consultants are leaders in their respective fields including; Family Business Consulting, Strategic Planning, Financial Planning, Wealth & Risk Management, Corporate Finance, Business Transitions & Exit Planning - Buy, Improve, Grow & Sell Businesses, Commercial & Family Law, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development & Facilitation, providing our clients with a professional and integrated multi-disciplinary service.



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