Monday, June 6, 2016

Family Business Values

Every family has values.  They may be spoken or unspoken. Some families live out their values more closely than others, but each family has a set of values. Though the world is ever-changing, a family’s core values should be constant.  It is these core values that influence attitudes, drive behavior and action.  It is who you are as a business family.

A “value” is a principle, standard, or quality considered intrinsically worthwhile or desirable. The root of value is valoir, which means ‘to be of worth’.  Values are also a source of strength because they give business families the power to take action. Values are deep and emotional, difficult to change and often unconscious.

Sometimes, people mistakenly think of values as a list of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” guiding what they can or cannot do.  To the contrary, values are energizing, motivating, and inspiring. When people care passionately about something—in other words, value it—they can spur themselves to great achievements. The core values really are conscious motivators!

That doesn’t mean it is easy to just sit down and articulate the family values.  Documenting the family’s non-negotiable values takes collaboration and discussion. There are many ways to codify a business family’s values; however, simply identifying the values is more important than how you document them.  As the saying goes, ‘just do it.’  Engaging in a values dialogue should not create opposition in the family.  Rather, it should be an opportunity to experience the free flow of thoughts between family members to build a congruence of thoughts that will unite the family and strengthen the business.

Articulating these core values will influence a business family’s worldviews; competitiveness; beliefs about wealth and philanthropy; and how major decisions are made.

As Roy Disney said: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”