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  • AutorenbildHans Lauterbach



Disputes and smoldering internal struggles in which the family structure begins to falter and sometimes breaks. A handover that has not yet taken place in the minds, in which the seniors cannot let go and the children are anything but happy. Not an isolated case.

What does a handover of generations mean - in general and for everyone involved?

From a superficial point of view, the handover of a company from one generation to the next is primarily about the handover of property, responsibilities and rights, which are ideally regulated by contract. In addition to these formal things, a lot happens on a personal level. Things that go a lot deeper emotionally and are therefore usually more difficult to control. On the one hand, it means for the generation of parents to let go of their own life's work, with which they have identified themselves for many years, which often brings those affected into a strong inner conflict: relinquishing their responsibility coupled with concern for the continued existence of the company. On the other hand, the boys usually want to take the helm as quickly as possible and implement their ideas - often coupled with a feeling of being overwhelmed and a guilty conscience towards the parents. The young can only go their own way where the old really withdraw from the company. As paradoxical as it may sound, if you want to keep your life's work, you have to let it go.

In the ideal case, a transfer takes place in this sequence:

1. The parents are still at the helm and run the company

2. The children work in a targeted manner and are given the first follow-up tasks

3. The responsibility of the children increases, they take on the first management tasks

4. The handover takes place

The benefit of a well-structured handover

A delayed or poorly executed handover often ends in economic turbulence or, in the worst case, in the bankruptcy of the company. However, if planning is good, the benefits can be determined on five levels:

1. Time saving. If parents and successors have agreed on the individual steps from the first talks to the takeover, standstill in the process is very unlikely.

2. Energy savings in the sense of life energy Tensions and conflicts can be avoided if everyone pays attention to open and trusting communication.

3. Cost savings. Clearly defined goals, jointly defined milestones and a predetermined end of the process on the one hand limit your own effort. On the other hand, the budget for external support, for example by a lawyer, tax consultant or coach, can be calculated precisely.

4. Stability. Together, they create the basis for a stable and future-oriented company.

5. A good feeling occurs when everyone is satisfied with the new status and everything went as desired for the family.

What makes the handover so difficult?

The role conflicts in family and company.

In a family business, the members have dual roles. Father and mother are also managers, the daughter is responsible for marketing, the son is junior manager. Often everyone does a little bit of everything, you are there for each other. What seems natural in the family can be stressful in everyday work. The most important basis in this area of ​​tension is the respectful and respectful interaction with each other. This includes talking to each other. And that includes listening to each other. In the best case, family cohesion is a powerful basis for mutual success. The prerequisite for this is to become aware of the roles involved and to make them transparent.

The most important pillars of a successful handover

In order for the handover and takeover of a company to work well and the successful continuation of operations to be ensured, these four requirements must be met:

1. The transferee makes his or her decision voluntarily and deliberately. Anyone who is pushed into the role of the boss without really wanting to fill them out will hardly be happy and very likely will not be successful either.

2. The family plans enough time to plan and implement the process. Five to ten years from the first considerations to the successful handover are a realistic time frame.

3. The next generation can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in order to successfully run and develop the company.

4. Communication between everyone involved is open, based on trust, respect and objectivity and is lived throughout the handover process.

How can it go ? Possible transfer options

1. Very traditional and predetermined from an early age, the eldest son or heir takes over the company from the parents. What seems logical at first glance is not always the best choice.

2. Ideally, the child who is most interested gets the company that is well prepared for it and can best deal with the new role.

3. From a certain size and profitability, the company can also be divided.

4. If siblings share the task of joint leadership, a clear division of competencies, a common vision and well-established processes are required.

6. If there is no successor in the family, ownership and management can

be separated. In this case, another person, often from outside, takes over the management.

Goals and criteria for a successful handover / takeover

At the beginning of the process, it is essential to think about the consequences and goals of the generation change. This is the only way to assess the achievement of the goals in retrospect. Here are some examples of possible goals:

• everyone involved feels treated fairly

• The company continues to function well or is even growing

• There is a clear dividing line between old and new management

• All relevant information has been passed on

• Customers accept the takeover

• the team stays and is satisfied

• no recognizable load remains

• The gaze is directed forward

Tips for a transparent process

1. Record all meetings / decisions in minutes

2. Formulate goals early

3. Open and trusting communication

4. Acknowledge that there are two systems: family and business

5. mutual understanding of the respective perspectives

6. Consult external advice if necessary: ​​uninvolved view from outside

All of this seems very logical. But if you are part of the system yourself, you often lack an unbiased and objective view of the whole, and you act from the gut.

So here is a brief summary of what constitutes the basis for a good handover within the family:

• Timely planning and open communication in every phase of the handover process.

• Understand the benefits of a good handover and set the criteria and goals so that they can be achieved and evaluated.

• Be aware of the possible transfer options, because the obvious solution is not always the best.

• And finally the most important thing of all: letting go of the parents' generation and at the same time appreciating those who took over what the parents have achieved and achieved.

Then it will be possible to lead the company together into the future.

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