Lessons Learned – All in the family!

Lessons Learned – All in the family!

In counseling it is judicious to avoid getting in the middle of a dispute and negotiation between family members.

Case in Point: A physician who owned all the shares of a very successful and profitable medical corporation Sub S Corp with 7 doctors, asked for counseling to smooth the succession and transition of leadership roles in the corporation. The father of the owner had founded the practice and, despite his intentions to retire and encouragement from others to retire, had shown no inclination to back away from policy making and management responsibilities. He would periodically visit the practice to make operational decisions. In an effort to transition the practice, a new office manager was hired six months previously, but she had had little cooperation and success in being either trained or informed by the former bookkeeper who had been with the organization for 25 years. The loyal bookkeeper/ office manager and founder of the organization were trusted allies and both had expressed an interest in retiring—soon. The firm’s accountant was helpful to the new office manager and owner but shared only a limited amount of the information required to understand the financial position.

The problem was obviously a personal one between the founding physisian and his offspring to whom he had assigned the ownership shares in the corporation. The offspring was very emotional during the counseling session that was abbreviated by time constraints to see the afternoon schedule of patients. The suggestion for the owner to exert authority and take charge of the organization was poorly received. The counselor was thoroughly frustrated in his desire to mediate a workable solution and to find himself in the midst of a family matter. Family affairs are generally beyond the purview of SCORE counselors, because few families can view the issues from an objective perspective.

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