08/3/17

Relationships In The Red

Family businesses fail more often due to relationship challenges than for strictly business reasons.

For some of my blogs and newsletters over the past month or so, I have been mining the wisdom found in Maps for Men, A Guide for Fathers and Sons and Family Businesses by Pyles and Pyles. In it this father and son team has shared an incredibly meaningful understanding of and guide for families in business.

Here is one of their observations about relationships that I find important when thinking about these challenges:

“Relationships are the emotional bank in a family business. Communication is the main currency of the bank, where deposits and withdrawals are constantly being made. Like any bank, when the withdrawals outnumber the deposits, the relationship is in the red. High stakes situations require trust and leadership skills in order to turn anger and hurtful situations into meaningful and constructive dialogue and decisions. Those leaders who have the most influence create a parallel process of solid relationships and effective results.”[1]

As social beings we are dependent upon good relationships and open communication. Failure to cultivate these within both the family system and the business system is a major threat to multi-generational success.

[1] Pyles and Pyles, Maps for Men. A Guide for Fathers and Sons and Family Businesses (WestBow Press, 2016), 162

 

05/26/17

Facebook Leadership—Triad For Success

“In a relationship as critical as the one at the top, how do you create open lines of communication, respect differences and grow the business together?[1]

In his article Sheryl Sandberg Shares the Key to Creating Chemistry at the Top, Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff asks this question. He is probing into the secret of the successful collaboration between Facebook’s “oddest couple” leadership team—Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg. The answers he elicited hit the nail on the head for me when considering what’s needed for growing a successful family enterprise: “carve out time to communicate; prioritize the relationship; find a partner who shares your values.”

The ultimate management challenge for a family business is to open communications.

Without functioning lines of communication a palpable underground of misunderstandings, resentments, personality conflicts, will ripple through the family and the business impacting their workings and the bottom line.

Family meetings and staff meetings held on a regular basis provide groundwork for clearing problems before they build up. Between senior executives, the importance of maintaining constant communication cannot be stressed enough. Lack of strong partnership at the top can seriously hinder an organization’s ability to live its values and fulfill its mission.

Prioritizing relationships is another challenge for family businesses.

 This key point is easily overlooked because of the familiarity born into the family. When everyone grew up with everyone else it’s hard to see beyond personalities and personal histories. But for good or for ill, quality of relationships impacts the prosperity of both business and family.

Shared values lie at the very foundation of family enterprises.

The nature of the business and its mission may change with a changing external marketplace; values are the bedrock that underlies longevity. Again from Spencer Rascoff: “If you don’t have a shared language of values in an organization, it won’t work.”

The success of Facebook cannot be denied. Implementing its executives’ triad of ingredients for success—communication, relationship and values—can help family businesses achieve their own success, now and into the future.

[1] All quotes in this article from: Sheryl Sandberg Shares the Key to Creating Chemistry at the Top, accessible online at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/facebooks-sheryl-sandberg-shares-key-creating-top-spencer-rascoff