The Dilemma of generational Change

Feb 04, 2024


Many owners of family-run companies are currently facing this challenge. These decision-makers, most of whom belong to the post-war generation, are in the process of preparing for the generational change and are faced with a significant area of tension:

How do I transport digitalization with the associated values of modern leadership into my traditional company?

A key task for entrepreneurs in this phase is to organize their own succession at an early stage. You should consider the following questions:

- How do I want to organize my succession? Through my own family or an external appointment?

- What is the economic situation of the company? What is the current market situation? And the associated decision: reorganize or manage?

- If I decide in favour of a family appointment: How do I appoint my successor? How do I build him/her up step by step, also with regard to the strategic external and internal image? In what time frame should this take place?

- In the case of an external appointment: How do I communicate this internally and externally? Which consultant with which expertise do I call in? Here, too, it is important to clarify the timing and the strategic direction of the company. Another question is: How do I bind the external manager to the company? 

person holding camera lens

Nicolaus von Heyden-Linden is Executive Search Consultant at division one, our German Partner. His focus is on medium-sized family businesses and corporate groups. This makes him a companion for optimal succession planning when owners retire from the business and at the same time a witness, mediator and observer in the generational change. He acts as an important sparring partner in this entrepreneurial decision-making process and knows the obstacles, conflicts and fears when the final decisions are imminent:

"What's next for my company?"

In his experience, succession planning is often made more difficult by the different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives, including generational differences, of the job holders and the new candidates - often caused by a lack of understanding towards the other parties, be it their own family or external managers. This is aggravated by the right of family branches, advisory boards, foundations or banks to have a say, which is why law firms or management consultancies are usually involved in the decision-making process of succession planning.

Personnel consultants from ENEX can support this process from start to finish with many years of experience and expertise. The prerequisite for successful collaboration: a 100 per cent basis of trust, communication and discretion between consultant and owner.

Learn more about ENEX at