Friday, July 22, 2011

The Family Business Check-Up

As we previously discussed, Physicians encourage us to have annual check-ups. This is critical in order to understand, prevent and address potential health risks.

Family owned Businesses, of any age or generation, also need to take routine assessment of the health of their business, family, and individuals in the business. To get a clear true understanding, the assessment should consider, separately and in combination, all the factors that enhance the health of the Business Family. Critical areas that should be evaluated can include: Leadership; Values; Change; Goal Orientation; Empowerment; Communications; Team Work; Interpersonal Relationships; Familiness; Customer Focus; and Individual Recognition.

The best way to find out what is actually going on in the family and business is to ask those in the family and in the business. In prior posts and ‘Check-Up’ we considered Familiness and Family Values; this time the Family Business Check-up looks at Communication.

Effective communications is foundational for any group or organization. The effectiveness in communication requires relationships and feedback. This aspect of the check-up focuses on communication as a critical process for the family to understand each other and nurture deep relastionships.

Each Family Member should address the following statements:

1. Our Family feels free to communicate openly and honestly with our Senior Family members.

2. To avoid offending anyone in our Family Business, we are very careful to communicate through formal channels.

3. Our Family Leadership seeks extensive input from Family members who will be affected by a given decision.

4. In our Family, information is shared with those who need it, when they need it.

5. When our Family has disagreements, Family members are willing to work hard to develop understanding and a win-win solution.

How would your family, employees, and customers, clients, or vendors, answer these questions about Communication in your family and your family business?

We will continue to explore critical areas for the annual check-up of Family Owned Business in later posts.

What are your thoughts regarding the annual check-up?

When was the last time your Family Business had a check-up?

What did you find?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So What Makes You A Leader

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." --John Quincy Adams

Kouzes and Posner in their classic “The Leadership Challenge”, see leaders as pioneers… “Leaders are pioneers. They are people who venture into unexplored territory. They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations. People who take the lead are the foot soldiers in the campaigns for change… The unique reason for having leaders – their differentiating function – is to move us forward. Leaders get us going someplace.”

How are we as leaders in our families and businesses inspiring others?

Are we truly moving our business and family forward into new territory?

Let me know what is holding you back.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Your actions speak so loud I cannot hear a word you are saying

Our children, family, employees, customers, vendors, neighbors, (and the list could on and on) are not necessarily awestruck by what we say, BUT they are struck by what we do and how we act.

How aligned are our actions with our rhetoric?

Some time ago, I was talking with a Family Business owner whose business was struggling to survive. He stated he was also struggling to find, hire, and retain “good help”. In the course of our discussion he stated employees who had a strong work ethic, were honest, and willing to put in “full day” just did not exist anymore. As our discussion continued he continued to talk of his struggles and related a story of how a customer tried to take advantage of him. This particular customer told this businessman they did not receive certain product they had paid for. This Family Business leader stated he knew the product was delivered as he personally had delivered the product. So rather than discuss the issue with the customer he advised his delivery staff to “pad” the bill each time they delivered product to that particular customer.

I then proceeded to ask him what he would do if he caught one of his employees, or children, “padding” their Timecard because they felt they were not being paid appropriately?

As leaders in our families and in our businesses are we modeling the behaviors that match our stated values?

Are we showing / modeling respect?

Are we showing / modeling honesty?

Are we showing / modeling credibility?

Are we showing / modeling commitment?

Are we showing / modeling our stated core values?

Are your actions speaking so loud people cannot hear a word our saying?

What examples can you provide?