Real Causes of Family Conflict (Part 2)

FAMILY business in Asia is indeed a family affair, and the appropriate description will always depict a family tree with the next generation members and their spouses as branches connected all the way up to the founder or the generation that started the business.

A family affair carries with it a precarious decision-making process, where the criteria in most cases is heavily tilted towards equality, less on fairness and heavily fraught with emotion. Linking this scenario, I would like to continue the story of Rey below, as he narrates his disappointment upon hearing of the equal ownership scheme from his mother.

“All five siblings were not equal in ability and work attitude”

Modesty aside, I have always been the one initiating new businesses and maintaining relationships with our customers. Together with Raymond, Papa developed the habit of calling on me to implement the plans and not on Ralph, Rowen, Rochelle.

He would always remark that he failed as a parent in instilling the value of hard work on his three children.

Having worked with the three, it was obvious that they demonstrated a lack of maturity, leadership skills and poor work ethic. They report for work anytime of the day.

I often catch them on their computers doing something unrelated to their jobs. When I request for monthly meetings, they would either come in very late or not appear at all.

They have become so entitled that one time, Ralph told my mom that he will be out for a few days to do personal errands but came back 20 days later. He never bothered to inform us of his whereabouts. I only found out on Facebook that he went on a cruise with his wife’s family.

Recently, I discovered that the three siblings established their own businesses. This was a clear violation of what Papa told us when we joined the family business: that all members joining the business must work full time.

They obviously put up their businesses after Papa died.

I am turning 41 next month and my siblings are in their early to late thirties. To be burdened with so much work, plus the pronouncement of our mother regarding the equal ownership structure, I have reached a point where I have to decide if I am really cut out to be working for the family business or not. I feel I have been treated so unfairly!

The other thing that worries me is that once my mother is gone, the business might suffer.

After hearing my story, do you think I have every right to feel bitter and resentful against my ageing mother for not appreciating the work and commitment I put in the family business?

Should I just strike out on my own? Is stepping down the right thing to do?

By leaving, I also want to teach my unfocused siblings a lesson. And if I go, I am sure my youngest brother will follow. He has also expressed his disappointment to the equal ownership scheme.


Prof. Soriano is a National Agora Awardee for Marketing Excellence, an ASEAN Family Business Advisor, Book Author, Executive Director of ASEAN-based Consulting group, W+B Strategic Advisory. He is also an International Business Lecturer and Professor at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.
Prof Soriano is slated to deliver a talk to family business owners in Cebu in February. The series of talks are part of W+B Cebu’s advocacy campaign related to Family and Business Governance for SME’s. Those interested to attend should call the W+B Group 09228603186 and look for Ms. Jen. Registration is a requirement.

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