Q: I’ve been with this family business for 15 years. The family’s next generation is graduating from college and returning to the business. I remember when these kids were running around and getting in my way, so it’s hard to take them seriously. How can I tell the owners that I’m not interested in training my replacement?

A: As the next generation comes back to a family business there will be challenges. Long-term employees have a history with the “kids” and may have problems accepting them as competent coworkers.

Family businesses tend to provide the benefits of flexibility, shared values and openness between employer and employee. With these advantages come a few challenges for employees, one of which is the need to work with the business’ next generation of managers and leaders. The current employees and the next generation have responsibilities to assure the transition is smooth and effective. 

Employees need to accept that, even though they may have interacted with these “kids” when they were 10 years old, they have to set those experiences aside and work with them in the present. That generation needs an honest chance to prove themselves at this point in their life and show they have matured.

Members of the next generation must show that they are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work, be at work ahead of schedule and be among the last to leave, follow the same rules as all other employees, be accountable, and not avoid the dirty work — literally.

Rather than thinking of it as “training your replacement,” consider it an opportunity to influence the next generation of pork industry and business leaders.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.