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10 Strategies Family Firms Can Use To Be More Effective


Anyone who has worked in a family business as a family member or as a non-family employee knows how challenging it can be when the business system and the family system collide!


Without a lot of focus and an extra dose of professionalism, a lot can and typically will go wrong. Here’s a list of some of the most basic processes and systems that family-owned enterprises can operationalize to help them be as effective as possible.


1. Communicate

Communicate – in fact, over-communicate. Don’t leave people guessing about what you really mean. Be precise, share your plans, visions, and expectations, and be willing to engage in constructive discussions when you disagree. Remember to communicate when things go well too and thank people for their hard work and dedication to the business and to the family.


2. Embrace Different Leadership Styles And Approaches

Embrace different leadership styles and approaches. Rising generations will bring new perspectives and may not encompass the exact same leadership style as previous generations. Different does not mean ineffective! Groom rising generations to unlock their full potential by being the best versions of themselves, instead of simply trying to replicate the previous generation of leadership.


3. Create Solid Family Governance

Create a solid family governance process that articulates the vision for the family and the family business, that spells out how future generations can become employed in the company and that addresses how the family and the business will operate in support of each of these systems.


4. Bring In External, Non-Family Members

Be sure to bring in external, non-family members to take on key roles in the company. This external perspective will be ultra-valuable and will bring fresh and innovative thinking to the company.


5. Treat Everyone Like A Family Member

Treat every single employee, family and non-family alike, as you would treat a family member. These are your most precious assets.


6. Optional Entry For The Next Generation

Don’t make working in the family business an obligation for the rising generation. Give them the option and let them choose if they truly have the passion and drive to continue the family legacy.


7. Invest The Time

Invest the time in articulating a clear vision for the company and communicate that vision to the rising generations. Along with the vision, be sure the family establishes its values that will be enduring for many generations to come.


8. Be Open To Change

Be open to change. If your company is not changing and evolving, you won’t be prepared for the future and everyone around you, especially your competitors, will already be many steps ahead of you. Be willing to break things to see if you can put them together in new and innovative ways. Explore diversification and step out of your comfort zone, just be sure to do all of it after some good old market analysis and strategic thinking.


9. Set Boundaries

Set boundaries and don’t compromise on them. Working in a family-owned enterprise makes it so easy to work all the time, which will have a negative impact on family relationships. Set up those boundaries and honour them. All of your family members will thank you for it.


10. Have Fun

Have fun. One of the biggest benefits of being a part of a family business is the opportunity to work with the people that you love, especially your family members.


About the Author - A founding member of Business Consulting Resources, Jean manages the human resource and organizational development activities at BCR. Jean brings over 40 years of experience to Hawaii corporations and family owned enterprises in organizational development, strategic planning and market strategies, human resources, executive coaching, team building and leadership development. Jean is an expert in workplace behaviours and in job-to-skillset matching. She regularly assists clients in employee selection, team building, training and development, motivation and incentives, internal communication structures and conflict resolution. In BCR’s family business practice, Jean plays an active role in guiding BCR’s annual family business research which BCR has been conducting since 2017. In addition, Jean leads the firm’s efforts in creating and growing the Women Leaders In Family Enterprises organization which is a non-profit organization designed for women in family businesses who are currently in leadership positions or growing into leadership positions, to navigate the challenges, biases and preconceived notions that women must still manage through, even in family owned enterprises.



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