TODAY’S article will highlight the importance of communication.
In a growing multi-generational family similar to the “A” family featured last week, communication is no longer a benefit, it is mandatory.
This June, a timely and very important topic family members are eagerly looking forward to is the topic related to M&A’s (mergers and acquisitions) and IPO or public listing. I picked the topic to create awareness on the need for the family business to understand the concept of enterprise value and also to raise the bar on performance and accountability.
And as a fitting finale, being the family’s business coach and growth advisor, I intend to conduct a 30-minute session that focuses on three important areas related to governance.
Three C’s (communication, compliance, commitment), three R’s (roles, rules and responsibilities) and three G’s (governance, goals, growth).
It is also a wonderful venue in addressing possible questions many families wonder about. How do we educate our family members so that they can be effective owners and contributors to the family legacy? How can family members’ voices be heard if they have issues within the business? Who can work in the family business? Sometimes, the family decides on a certain philanthropy, foundation or service (community project) to support as well as acknowledge accomplishments and milestones of family members. The last part is spent sharing wonderful stories together.
The meeting usually wraps up in less than four hours. When there are no more issues or topics raised, the whole clan is treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch, the much awaited raffle of travel certificates and their honorarium or per diem for attending.
What the family is employing is a process that prepares and plans the family business’ future. It is called communication. Communication also brings to the table openness and transparency. When these meetings are properly managed, it breeds goodwill, trust and respect both for those active and non-active in the family business.
After helping reverse an emotionally charged conflict among Richard’s children that lasted four years, I felt that creating a communication platform with regular family and business council meetings plus a middle of the year gathering was the best “fire wall” approach to deter and eliminate any possibility of renewed conflict.
Additionally, the discipline to meet on a regular basis and the opportunity to embrace “take home values” or new knowledge has positively reinforced their commitment to protect the business.
With a stewardship mindset slowly being embedded among family members, the culture of long-term thinking has effectively discouraged personal interests to take root.
Expectedly, while the family continues to experience “rough patches” in terms of their relationships, the fact that they can address the issues in a safe and open manner has given them a certain level of maturity and closeness that was not evident before the meetings were initiated.
For the A family, open and honest communication during meetings was the foundation for a better future.
As a final message, do not underestimate the importance of good communication — among members of management, among family members, and particularly between the generations. It is an investment in the future.