Communication in a family business always seems to be a moving feast. Someone, somewhere, in the family, may appear to be out of alignment with business decisions or strategies or family roles or responsibilities. And yet, communication is a core competency that all family members and staff employed in the business must have to effectively operate and reach their goals.
We spoke to John Broons who shared his 5 tips to consider discussing at your next family meeting:
1. Do not try to discuss and resolve family and business issues or challenges in the same meeting. Separate the challenging questions so the facts are the focus of the information flowing across the table. Have separate meetings with family to discuss family issues and other meetings to discuss business issues.
2. Really listen to the other people in your conversations. Check in with the others in the conversation that “This is what I’m hearing. Is this what you are saying and meaning?”
3. Be very wary of your messaging when using technology to communicate with other family members and business associates. When not meeting face-to-face the dynamics of communication change and we lose the body language and tone segments of our conversations. Create an online strategy for all to understand and utilize.
4. Educate family members and staff on how to communicate better. Training can be part of an on-boarding process for new family and employees joining the business and can also enhance the skills of those already in the business.
5. Conduct a review your current perception of communication with the family and maybe even include the top management team. Ask questions like: On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you think we are communicating now? Is there something bothering you that has not been addressed by the family? What can we do to improve our communication? Look for an average communication score and discuss members perceptions. Then you can look for ways to improve your family’s communication by running another sample a month or two after some recognized adjustments have been made.
Improving communication is a goal worth spending some time and effort to achieve. Working through these 5 items will enhance both your family and business outcomes.
Find out more about the work that John does with family businesses by visiting his website here