Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Healthy is Your Family Business?

Following my recent post "Getting Along, Getting Aligned, Getting Ahead", I just finished writing series of posts on behaviors and motivators. The better that is understood and applied, the better we do at getting along with others, which in turn contributes to more effective communication and to then more effective alignment. But what do we exactly mean by alignment? What does that include? How do we make that happen? I'll be writing on this topic in my upcoming posts.

Before moving onto that topic however, as we're about to enter the new year and therefore thinking this will be a great time to do a heath check on your family business, I wanted to share with you the "Family Business Health Check" that I just designed. See below. Go ahead, give your family business a physical and determine it's health. From this, you'll a sense of where additional work is needed to improve the health of your business, and the health with family members who are directly and indirectly related to your business.

To start, please answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge. Then follow explanation below.

1. All of the family members involved in the business, directly and indirectly, understand and are aligned with the business’ purpose, vision, mission, values, and goals?

2. Everyone knows what each family members wants?

3. You are able to openly share concerns, differences of opinions, and issues with your family members and we are able to resolve our differences?

4. Your business is run professionally, without family issues or dynamics negatively impacting or complicating business matters?

5. Family members, and non-family members in key positions, challenge each other, in a productive way, to build healthier business and stronger relationship, with family members and non-family members?

6. Your family has regular meetings and retreats to deal with family business issues, in a safe environment?

7. Your family has clear guidelines for family members and their conduct within the business?

8. The senior generation in your business shares their philosophy their plans for succession and is open to new ideas and ways?

9. Family members inside and outside of your business communicate openly and bring up issues so that they can be discussed and resolved without any animosity?

10. Family members are clear about their roles and responsibilities and those are aligned with each individual’ inherent strengths and intrinsic motivations?

11. Family members hold themselves and each other accountable?

12. Family participates in long-range planning and is aligned with the direction, strategic focus and base strategy?

13. Family members are kept informed of business performance, challenges being faced, and other matters?

14. Family members are in the business by choice, not out of obligation, guilt and other related feelings?

15. Family members effectively communicate and manage & leverage each other’ differences for greater individual and joint success?

16. Family members are continuously learning and growing?

17. Family members genuinely care for, support, trust and respect each other?

18. Family members maintain healthy boundaries between home and business?

19. Family members understand and respect what each contributes to the business?

20. Family members participate in both shared activities as well as activities that give them their own space?

21. Family members understand and respect family values and traditions?

22. Family members feel they are treated fairly, heard and appreciated?

23. Family members are encouraged to seek experience outside of the family business for their further development and growth?

24. You have a clear process for making different types of decisions, especially as it involves family?

25. Family members effectively manage boundaries between family roles and business roles?

So, how did you do? How many no's? Yes's? The more no's, the greater the chances of your business failing, and most likely when you least expect it. Don't let this happen to you and your business.


P.S. To get even greater value from this Family Business Health Check, do the following:

For each question, instead of yes and no answers, assign a numerical range. For example, for each question, ask them to respond on scale of 1-10, with 1 being strongly disagree to 10 being strongly agree. On questions where there is a wide gap between some answering say as opposed to 10, or where you have consistently high scores, they may give you insights into potential issues that need/must be addressed.

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