Your family members are together to make key business decisions but the meeting has devolved in a toe-to-toe shout-down. The agenda has become a process of Ready! Fire! Aim! There is a tried and true way to end this. One colleague asks the others, “What does everyone want to eat?” Suddenly the topic is not "who said what" but rather, what's the criteria. A tried and true method that works.
Your job managing the family business did not come with a crystal ball. But now, you are getting calls and emails from family members, employees, vendors, suppliers, city officials, the local press, and never-before-heard-from stakeholders about what is going to happen to the enterprise that supports so many. Let me give you a proven solution: appoint an Ombudsman.
The single most important issue in family business, above all the other important ones, is boundaries. Failure to establish and adhere to proper boundaries is the cause of more disruption than any other issue.
Boundaries are a defining concept for every successful family business I’ve ever worked with, and it’s the second of my supporting pillars in my online course, Re-Imaging Relationships For Families In Business. American poet Robert Frost noted that “good fences make good neighbors,” and I would add that good boundaries make good working relationships between family members.
Something I know for sure: anything attempted without alignment is unlikely to be long-lasting. Still, you must all agree on the “how-to” before you can implement an agenda of growth and sustainability. I recommend a family alignment model called Values-Based Leadership.
Alignment is how learning to resolve family issues begins, and this is how my self-study course, Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business begins. My use of the concept of alignment is meant to be a 3D acceptance of your basic core values.
“The issues” vary, of course, but there can turning points when a family business needs an outside opinion, maybe some suggestions, to resolve painful or contentious situations. For those family leaders who would like to do some groundwork, I’ve created an online course called Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business. This is a distillation of what I have seen and worked with over the length of my career.
I’ve spent some time looking back on a half-century career of working with families in business, and I see that, when those involved realized the overall impact of family businesses in global terms, then our consulting and support profession really gained depth and structure.
What I want to say is that in my experience, much of the research is focused on what conditions do or do not exist in family. I believe there should be more focus on what actions might be taken by family business consultants to improve overall operations. That’s always been my motivator in working with the over 500 families during my 50- year career. “I hear you. I see your issues. Now let’s do something to change them.”
In early 2018, in the deep winter of the Rocky Mountains, I sat down to write about what I’ve done for a living for the last 50 years. For the last 5 decades I have worked to help families in business grow, prosper, stay together, keep the love, and pass the torch when the time comes. I acknowledge it is time for me to take what I have learned over my years in family business consulting and make it available in an online course. Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business takes the learner through what I know to be the Concepts, Methods, and Techniques That Can Work Miracles. My online course includes not only what I have learned first-hand from all my years of work, but it also includes supporting research to help understand why things may happen the way they do, and how to make lasting changes to prevent future obstacles.