Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sustaining The Family Business With A Coach

Average life expectancies have been going up for years now – with the Social Security Administration listing average life expectancies as 84 for men and 86 for women – and the numbers continuing to trend higher.  It is not unheard of to have three or even four generations of family members alive and working in a family business at the same time.  This creates both challenges and opportunities for enterprising families.  Successfully navigating the journey of a family business requires a combination of discipline, communication, deliberate planning, and difficult decisions.  A professional coach can provide invaluable support along the way.

There are a number of benefits to utilizing a family business coach to help the family navigate the family, generational, and long term issues.  A coach can bring clarity to issues, perspective based on experience, and unbiased relationships with family members.  In addition, a coach can provide:

       1.    Unbiased Input.  A coach can act as the unbiased mediator between family members as well as offer unbiased reviews of business issues.
2.     Strategic Insight.  A coach can ask tough questions and be a sounding board for family members to test new ideas, particularly with respect to ownership planning, management planning, and family governance.
3.     Giving Voice.  A coach can be a safe outlet for both family and non-family employees in the business to discuss concerns or perceived inequities.  Additionally, the coach can help provide both employees and family members the tools to help foster communication, particularly communication about delicate or difficult to discuss issues.
4.     Succession Planning.  Senior family members do not always want to recognize their ultimate departure from the business and do not always admit they will one day need to transition the leadership. A coach can provide support to foster the dialogue and develop a plan to pass the baton to the next generation.
5.     Asking the Difficult Questions.  A coach can also help family members identify and articulate hidden issues – usually underlying, perhaps unspoken, issues that are emotional in nature yet critical and fundamental for the family to navigate and openly discuss in order to nurture trust within the family.

A professional coach can help the family business function with discipline and forethought to ensure sustainability for future generations. The coach can help the family achieve family goals by helping to establish the framework, training, helping with talent development, and fostering reflective planning for the future.