Managing Conflict is Key to Success in Business Transitions

November 6, 2014

The one constant that exists in our world today is change. Change is happening at a rate exponentially faster than any other time in history.

All companies and organizations are feeling the pressure of the rate of change and the need to define the future state. Although change can at times be scary, it is the only way to move forward and grow.

Often in family or closely held businesses, with change comes conflict. This can result from:

  • Differing vision for the future direction of the organization
  • Differing values
  • Failure to let go of the past
  • Reluctance of the senior generation to pass on authority
  • Power struggles between owners, siblings, or generations
  • Sibling rivalry or jealousy
  • Personality differences
  • Leadership style difference

Most of us avoid conflict for fear of losing relationships or fear of a negative outcome. We define conflict in a negative way.

However, to move our business forward we must change and address the conflicts that arise. Avoiding conflict will prohibit your progress as an organization. It can have negative consequences on the sustainability and long-term growth of the business. 

If as a business you can learn to manage conflict positively and work proactively toward a shared confidence in moving the business and family forward together, you can ensure a more positive outcome. Developing a shared vision and common interest leads to a “we” focus. 

Putting prevention strategies in place can diffuse the potential for conflict. These could include: 

  • Clear polices for family members
  • Defined roles and responsibilities within the business
  • Formal estate plan
  • Communication and decision making procedures
  • Mentoring plans

It is important to put prevention strategies in place to move conflict and change from emotional, subjective, past-based challenges, to factual, objective, future-focused solutions. This will ensure the forward movement and sustainability of your business by addressing real issues in light of your mission, vision and values.

To discuss strategies to diffuse conflict in your business, contact Thomas Schultz at