Fear Of Formal Family Face Time

Although the critical importance of bringing the family together for structured meetings is universally acknowledged, the idea of holding these meetings may meet with resistance among family members. Their resistance is largely based on unfounded fears.

Family members may believe that the current communication within the family is good enough. They may fear that structured meetings will stifle the informal spontaneity with which the family currently addresses issues. Some may share the misapprehension that structured meetings will provide fertile ground for difficult topics to find their way to the surface and cause harm.

Another common concern is that the democratic spirit inherent in family meetings may seem unsuitable given the natural inequality of parents and children, or the hierarchical inequality of ownership, management and staff. Some may fear that the open nature of the meetings may lead some to push to democratize the business’ management. In fact, however, family meetings in no way negate the prerogatives of ownership, leadership and experience.

It will benefit family members to address these fears and work through them. Structured family meetings have a proven record of positive outcomes that strengthen both the family and the business. The example of multi-generational family businesses worldwide proves that formal family face time is not to be feared but embraced.


The “Why” of Family-Business Meetings

Successful multi-generational family businesses recognize that family meetings are critically important to their longevity.

Family meetings create time and space for family members to discuss the family in the context of the business. In these meetings operational  and management issues are not on the table. Conversations here are about issues like criteria for participation in the family business; sharing values; meeting challenges; resolving conflicts. The result: a stronger family, and thereby a stronger business.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to family meetings, but family members coming together on a regular basis ensures open lines of communication. Open communication in turn helps avoid the characteristic pitfalls that await so many family-owned businesses, threatening their survival.