Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Boundaries and Boundary Issues in the Family Business

In the recent Network of Family Businesses seminar, Jane Adams, Ph.D. provided great insight to very tricky issues for Business Families. Jane stated it is important to understand that Boundaries are structures that separate us and attach us and are the building blocks of all human relationships. Boundaries also contribute to the Roles we play. Everyone plays multiple roles as a family member and as part of the business, thus opening many opportunities for boundary confusion, trespass, and conflict, particularly when outdated roles and unresolved conflicts from one domain seep into the other. Both entities are different, and so are most of the rules, spoken and unspoken, that guide behavior in each realm.

A skilled coach and life boundaries consultant, Jane’s expertise, advice and assistance can improve relationships with grown children, parents and other family members, friends and colleagues and help you balance your needs with those of others and your personal and professional obligations and commitments. Her book ‘Boundary Intelligence’ explains how people cope with the problems and rewards of balancing personal and professional obligations, maintain family bonds when distance and difference tug at the ties that bind, and develop emotionally and psychologically throughout their lives.

Defining the elements of Boundary Intelligence as: awareness, intention, action, and resolution, Jane stated we all have the ability to learn and grow in defining and being responsible for our boundaries. Jane emphasized that in the Family Business it is as critical to have a ‘Boundary Statement’ as it is a ‘Mission Statement’. Critical elements of a Boundary Statement include:

The balances between individual needs and business needs

Maintaining personal and interpersonal privacy

The elimination of burdensome family baggage

Avoiding domain ‘spillover’

Resolving conflicts in the appropriate domain (the family or the business)

Promoting growth, stability, and success of family business

There were several key items Jane believes families need to recognize and can start working on immediately:

1. Recognize and admit that there are boundaries. These boundaries exist in a family, in the business, and personally with individuals playing several roles depending on the context.

2. Business Families must begin talking about and exploring their boundary issues. Communicate the concerns of each individual, walk toward the conflict to address the conflict. Avoidance is not a healthy option.

3. Develop a written Boundary Statement for your family and business.

I want to thank Jane for providing insight and practical examples of boundary issues.

If I can be of service to you or your family, I would love to talk with you.

The archived seminar is available to members of The Network of Family Businesses.

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