‘Non-negotiables’ in a family business-A A +A
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
A MATRIARCH. A patriarch. A couple. A child. A sibling. A relative. They are holding each other’s hands, united as a family in a family business. A family life cycle. A family business life cycle. In those days. In these days. The questions are: What holds the family together? What makes the family business intact? In those days and in these days, the answers are not so easy.
The answers in those days were not easy: When the elder children had left home; when a deficient family structure existed due to widowhood or mentally and physically challenged children; and when poverty was everywhere.
The answers in these days are equally not easy: When the world is exponentially growing in a specialized commercial production, distribution and consumption of goods and services; when there are succession issues or problems in family businesses; and when there is a breakdown of the family as a primary group, as an institution.
What are the critical transition points, the points which result in a disruption of the family cycle and the family business cycle?
What will hold the family and the family business intact as the members stop for the moment of decision: to expand or to contract.
Some families and some family businesses fail. Others – luckier? Less lucky?
In a twinkling, families and family businesses can be broken up. Business founders on one side. The heirs on the other side. Children here. Adults, there. The rhythm is made dizzier by broken marriages and sibling rivalry.
Is this the story of a family? No. Is this the story of a family business? No.
This is the story of a family in business. It is the same story everywhere.
But something more is to be added to it. The issue of ‘non-negotiables’.
Let’s define ‘non-negotiables’ first in relation to your personal life.
Non-negotiable things in your life are things you would never exchange for anything. Some call these things as principles. Some call it values. Whatever name you call them, they're absolutely not for sale! No compromises. (www.coachmarvin.com)
What’s the big deal about knowing what your non-negotiables are?
Two things: First, so you’d know what circumstances to avoid; second, so you won’t feel guilty for making compromises on the rest.
Someone I know counts loyalty among his non-negotiables. He was happily working for his father's business when he began to feel a rift between them because of their diverging styles. Father and son were passionate about what they thought was best for the family business.
Those who are familiar with what's happening in a family business would see the picture here. Here's a guy wanting to assert himself with his "new school" methodologies in a family business that is governed -- by his Dad -- with his "old school" methodologies.
Had it been someone else’s business, he could have easily resigned. But loyalty to his family was non-negotiable. Yet, neither could he stay and clash with his Dad almost every day. It was equally unacceptable.
When he saw that loyalty was a non-negotiable thing for him, he clearly saw the next thing that he needed to do: swallow his pride and talk to his Dad, heart-to-heart. He poured out to his Dad his frustrations, at the same time assuring his Dad of his loyalty.
The next day, his Dad came up with a brilliant idea. He gave his son his own division to run. They would then both look at best practices in their respective styles and come up with a third unified style – that’s synergy defined.
Looking back, it was talking to his Dad that he feared the most. He drew courage from the knowledge that loyalty to his family was central to the issue. It was the inspiration that powered him to move on.
When you know you could compromise a bit on the rest, that takes out a lot of guilt, right there, because you know you retain something of greater value.
The following are suggested guidelines on non-negotiables, which may supply the necessary bridging operation for the family life cycle and the family business cycle as specified in some details.
Proper handling of the value of materialism. Materialism is a question of degree, size, number, frequency and speed. In other words, the product looks, feels, and tastes better so that it gives more comfort, pleasure and convenience.
Services must run in a business-like way: pragmatic and down-to-earth.
Payment of debts is done in due time as an expression of material success.
Profit is a relative term and should not be the end in itself. To accumulate wealth as en end in itself is characteristic of THE MISER. Profit is a means to produce or consume better commodities and services. It is also a way to build up an endowment fund for the less fortunate. It is a way to increase concern for the rights, privileges and potentials of workers and other ethnic minorities. Profit can also be used to protect women and children against exploitation.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 04, 2012.