Family Business

Transitioning into leadership roles


5 min




Watch the Schoedingers, a 6th generation family business operating Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Services based in Ohio, USA, as they explain the challenges facing any family member growing into leadership positions in the business. In a family business, transitioning the rising generation into management and ownership positions can be difficult for other employees. In order to maintain a favourable work environment, effective communication and follow up between top-level management and the rest of the business members is vital.




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Michael Schoedinger

Your early years at a family business are fun, you’re one of the guys and you know, we had company softball teams, we did bowling, I mean I was a single guy and you know, you work long crazy hours, we’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I loved it. And then as my father, after I finished my apprenticeship started to transition me into kind of a management role, I wasn’t overseeing any people, but he was giving me more responsibilities and increasing my duties. And then the staff starts to pull away, because now they don’t perceive you to be one of them, your transitioning into a “Schoedinger”, one of the owners, one of the managers, one of the leaders. So you go through a period of time when you’re kind of in no man’s land. You no longer ... View More get invited to the social events that the staff if doing, but you’re not a Schoedinger yet, and you go through that lonely period, and that was really hard for me.

Kevin Schoedinger

That’s something I’m struggling with right now. I’m making that transition from being one of the guys or being one of the front line people and trying to transition that to being more of a boss and it’s a delicate balance.

David Schoedinger

I think we all, my brother and I, I suppose my Dad and Uncle went through the same thing, you face that. There’s jealousy, you can feel it. My dad warned me, and I warned my boys. Don’t be arrogant, don’t walk around here like you own this place, I mean try to be as humble as you can. That’s the most difficult thing, to earn their respect. But as long as you work hard, and put your work in and work right along side them, and do the dirty work with them, they’ll grow to respect you.

Kevin Schoedinger

I think that the important thing is that if I give someone a directive and I know they’re not going to be happy about it, I still follow up. Follow-up after and say “how did that go? Is everything ok?”, and maintain that relationship so that they know, I’m still here to support you, I’m not just giving you directions, but I do care that everything’s going well but at the same time, this needs to be done.
I think it also comes with confidence in what you’re doing. I feel much more confident in what I’m doing now and in my ability to know what needs to happen than I did a couple years ago. People know that I know what I’m talking about, whereas I used to ask them for advice, now they’ll often come to me.

Michael Schoedinger

The good news is, every Schoedinger has kind of earned that confidence and been worthy of it as opposed to, you know there are so many family businesses in America, especially in the funeral business where the senior generation really was the pioneer, really was the rock of community, everybody knew him, and the son or child comes along and just doesn’t have the same values and they really start to hurt the business and I’ve seen it many, many times, and I’m proud that we haven’t really had that happen here. That every generation for six generations has continued to carry on the values and the culture that really make us the best funeral home in the state, and allowed us to grow, allowed us to be profitable, and serve so many families on the worst day of their lives and I’m proud of that.