Although each business family is unique and merits a carefully tailored approach, my advisory work generally includes the following 5 processes and deliverables:
FACILITATION FAMILY MEETINGS
Family characteristics such as shared values, common purpose, and a deep sense of loyalty are vital to the success many multi-generational family companies. In fact, many non-family companies try to create “family like” organizational cultures in order to improve performance. Effective family meetings can help preserve family history, values, and loyalty, and at the same time serve to update and refresh a sense of common purpose. In the best case, family meetings can help build stronger family harmony and a stronger business.
Growing up in the shadow of a powerful founder, working your way up the corporate ladder, or being a growing entrepreneur can be a challenging experience. Young people often need support and coaching to discover their strengths and achieve their potential. Often this includes filling in knowledge gaps such as financial acumen or strategic thinking. I help family members and young executives clarify their long-term goals, objectively assess their capabilities and create development plans to make a difference their business, their family, and their communities. Work in this area may include customized leadership education and the use of leadership competency assessments and 360-feedback, which expands self-awareness and can lead to greater trust, collaboration, improved business performance, healthy family and team relationships.
However families also often have difficult issues that are hard to discuss. These may include issues around inheritance, sibling rivalry within companies, and a diversity of personal values and opinions among family members. Although challenging and at times uncomfortable, work in this area can often lead to healing past hurts and misunderstandings that lay the foundation for new levels of family cohesion and trust. Through the use of family business assessments and genograms, I help families talk openly about difficult issues to resolve conflict, establish positive family connections, and pass their legacy on to the next generation.
MANAGEMENT SUCCESSION, EXIT STRATEGY, AND LIQUIDITY EVENTS
The transfer of ownership, management responsibility, and authority between generations is an especially difficult threshold for family and closely held companies to cross. Success beyond the first or second generations typically rests on the successors ability to develop the necessary skills and knowledge base to earn the trust and respect of a management team and other family members. In the event that a founder or family chooses to sell their company, this may involve extensive and sensitive negotiations over long periods of time. Having grown up in a family business, founded several closely held companies, and participated in numerous company mergers and acquisitions as a principal, I help families explore their options, execute their succession plans, and optimize their exit strategies to preserve family wealth over the long-term.
Virtually all companies experience tension between the demands of daily operations and focusing on longer-term initiatives that will ultimately grow the business. The ability to shift the balance from being reactive to proactive may determine if the company grows over the long-term. Creating a concise one-page strategic roadmap allows families, teams, and companies to consistently focus priorities for capital and time, align sales and marketing efforts with clearly targeted market segments, and maintain a proactive long-term competitive edge and healthy innovative culture.