Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Family Business Values Really Do Drive The Family And Business Culture

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 deep and emotional, difficult to change and often unconscious. 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 and drive behavior. It is who you are as a business family. 

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

            Are we showing and modeling respect?
            Are we showing and modeling honesty?
            Are we showing and modeling credibility?
            Are we showing and modeling commitment?

To check in on how your business family is doing, here are some discussion questions for your family, perhaps for your next Family Council meeting:

·      What are our family values?
·      How will our family values carry our business through the tough times?
·      How do the stakeholders in our business see our family extend grace, love, and forgiveness to others?
·      How are we ensuring the future generations will commit to our family values?
·      How do we as a family hold each other accountable and responsible to live out our family values?
·      Do we believe difficult decisions can be made expeditiously because our values are clear?
·      Are our values clear so that our priorities are clear?

Sometimes people mistakenly think of values as a list of “shoulds” and “should nots” 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, when they value it—they can spur themselves to great achievements. Values are conscious motivators!

“It’s important that people should know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.”
                                                Mary H. Waldrip, Author

Contact us to learn how we can assist your family in codifying you values.


Monday, June 15, 2020

What Does It Mean For A Family Business To innovate

In challenging times, it is imperative to the survival of businesses to have ambition, grit, and the internal force of innovation and creativity. All employees, family and non-family, must build on the family’s values, culture, vision, entrepreneurial drive and innovation. Fostering this internal force requires a management and leadership model that empowers all in the business to internalize an “owner’s” mindset.

Being innovative and creative is a conscious choice to challenge the status quo.  Creative people are value investors in the world of ideas.  Value is generated by evaluating a creative idea, calculating the risk-reward, and driving forward.

By defining specific characteristics of innovation as:
     Being an advantage over current use.
     Compatible with the family’s value and beliefs.
     Not overly complex so that it can be implemented.
     Provides an ability to ‘test drive’, yet still revert if it does not prove    
     Visible enough to be seen by others.

How can a family business foster innovation and creativity to keep new ideas flowing?

1.     Set the culture.  Establish a culture that promotes authenticity, commitment to people, commitment to the business, and continuous effort.
2.     Nurture a nudge.  A nudge is an action that attracts people’s attention and urges then to alter their behavior in a positive way, yet it is not done in a heavy-handed way. This nudge may be as simple as urging the sharing of an idea or as complex as developing and implementing a change process.
3.     Teach the family and employees the business.  Focus not only on the technical skills each individual needs to perform, but educate people regarding how the business makes money, how the business attracts and retains clients or customers, and other big-picture issues that impact the business.
4.     Keep the momentum going.  Building the internal force of innovative and creative family leaders and employees, and the culture to keep it going, takes hard work.  To keep the momentum going, ensure that the organization focuses on competitive compensation, keeping morale up, and consistent, effective communication.

By tapping into the internal force of innovative and creative family leaders and employees, a family business can out-think and out-perform the competition, increase profits, and move successfully into the future.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Invest In The Next Team

As the economy begins to re-open following the COVID-19 shutdown, many professional sports leagues are still trying to figure out what they will do. During the course of the pandemic, some professional baseball teams decided to stop paying their minor league players. At a fundamental level, decisions like this communicate a withdrawal from investing in the future.

Family owned enterprises cannot afford to stop investing in developing their bench for the next leadership team. Building the bench for a family business, which may include both family and non-family members, brings unique challenges and complexities.  

For a business family that desires to build a legacy and grow profitably well into the future, the following principles will help:

1.  Develop a Family Employment Policy that encourages family members who desire a leadership role to gain work experience outside of the family business and specifically defines the objective criteria necessary for employment and leadership.
2.  Nurture mentoring and coaching between the current CEO and the next generation of leaders. 
3.  Clearly define, in writing, the job description for the leadership team roles.  Identify the expectations and metrics to which each position will be held accountable.  This should also include the knowledge, skills, and abilities expected in each role, as well as a commitment to the family’s values and objectives. Have the senior generation guide the process of selecting their successors before they leave. 
4.  Seek the support of non-biased, third party perspectives in evaluating and selecting the next CEO and leadership team.  This may mean soliciting input from non-family directors, members of the advisory board, or qualified advisors.
5.  Be open to a non-family CEO for a season if a family member is not ready to assume leadership.
6.  Set the leadership team and the next CEO up for success.  Develop a communication structure and a governance system that efficiently and effectively outlines the processes for the family, the ownership, and the business to keep focused on the correct goals and objectives.
7.  Revisit these guidelines annually.

As a family, commit to a process that will build the best bench and develop the most qualified leadership team for the future of your family business.