In my recent posts, I have emphasized the need for regular communication between business partners, and even more so in businesses where family members are involved. I have also written much about the need to have an outside facilitator, someone who is objective and neutral. But how do you know when such a person is necessary, even crucial, and what do you look for in such a person?
Here are some key signs indicating you need external help:
- Emotions run hot;
- Some dominate the conversations, stalling participation from others;
- Conversely, people remain quiet, saying very little;
- People appear to be walking on egg shells, dancing around sensitive yet critical issues, which never seem to get resolved;
- When healthy dialogue is missing. People roll their eyes, looking here and there, and appear to agree readily;
- You know you need to communicate but you just can't seem to get to it, or are not sure what to do, or are uncomfortable for whatever reason;
- You need greater objectivity in the conversations.
- Must have deep understanding, preferably through real experience, of both business AND family/partnership dynamics;
- Is sensitive to group dynamics, not only among partners and among family business owners, but also dynamics that occur between owners and non-owners, non-owners and non-owner family members--yes, it's very complex;
- Strong at picking up undercurrents, the unspoken;
- Is an excellent listener, observer and has good communication skills;
- Can keep the conversation focused and on track;
- Can manage conflict and emotional vulnerability;
- Is objective and neutral while being respectful and understanding of various inputs.