Creating, Facilitating and Enhancing Family Meetings for Enterprising Families
Family meetings can help build a stronger family and a stronger business. They help the family plan for the future of the business in an orderly and constructive way. They can smooth difficult transitions as the succession of new leadership or the professionalization of the business. They can avert painful and costly conflict by helping the family address early and openly the issues that inevitably arise in family business ownership.
-- Family Meetings: How to Build a Stronger Family and a Stronger Business, Aronoff/Ward
Family meetings remain one of the most important methods for creating an ongoing, open dialogue in the family around family business issues. Implementing a family meeting schedule is often an early recommendation for new clients. Continually evaluating the family meeting and its structure, purpose and results is an important part of keeping the family engaged and excited to participate in the family business as owners and leaders.
Many families choose to work with an independent facilitator in order to:
Gain outside input and ideas on how the family's meetings are functioning and what could be improved,
Allow all family members to fully participate in dialogue and activities rather than facilitate,
Ensure that appropriate expectations and boundaries are set around the role of the family in contrast to the role of management or the board in decision making,
Avoid any perception that the interests of the facilitator or certain family members will get greater attention or regard, and
Diffuse emotional reactions and remain focused on the issue at hand during difficult or contentious discussions.
As consultants and advisors to family business, we regularly work with families to assess and improve existing family meeting programs, create new programs, and facilitate those meetings for optimal outcomes. To learn more about how expert facilitation can impact your next family meeting, contact us.