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How to Build Teamwork Amongst Key Managers and Family

Your management team and family member employees should form the backbone of your business. Ideally, they know and live your values; they are in alignment with your goals; and they are your boots on the ground interacting with customers, employees, and vendors. At their best they optimize resources to achieve a high level of performance, and drive your business onward to future success. So what happens when your managers and family don’t work as a team, and how can you turn things around?

When managers and family don’t work as a team, it erodes the very culture of your business and leads to a lack of alignment toward the achievement of a shared vision or purpose. Jockeying for position and looking out for themselves becomes the norm. This leads to a lack of transparency and fear of vulnerability. There is no openness to sharing weaknesses and challenges or owning up to mistakes. The individuals in the organization are then incapable of engaging in unfiltered discussion and passionate debate around ideas. There is a fear of conflict, which often leads to an artificial sense of harmony. Without debate and open sharing of opinions and viewpoints, there is rarely buy-in or commitment to initiatives. When there is no commitment to a clear and agreed upon plan of action, it’s virtually impossible to call out peers on counterproductive behaviors and actions, which ultimately leads to an inattentiveness to results. Individual needs take precedence over any collective goals. In essence, you have the absence of team and a lot of misdirected energy. In an environmental mix of non-family mangers and family member employees, this leads to a lack of buy-in toward the development of family member successor candidates and even an active undermining of any of their efforts.

The first step to turn things around is to recognize whether this kind of culture exists in your organization. If it’s truly this dysfunctional, acknowledge that it’s due to a lack of leadership and own that it’s your responsibility to turn it around. Teamwork is not a natural behavior in business; your employees are likely competitive, ambitious, and often want personal recognition. Underestimating the importance of teamwork, and failing to create the proper environment, will have a negative impact on the value, sustainability, and growth of the business. As the business owner, it is critical that you set the standard for teamwork, and encourage all those involved to be team players.

Creating a supportive environment that empowers your people to function as a high performing team will lead to a personally and financially rewarding business. The good news is that team dynamics can be taught, supported and ultimately imbedded within the culture of your business.

Building teamwork among key managers and family is possible, despite the attitudes and challenges that might be present. Having a team that is fluid and works collaboratively can be achieved if you operate within a framework that fosters trust, teamwork, and respect. There are six components of building teamwork:

  1. Building Trust

The single most critical component of teamwork is trust. Trust is the bonding agent upon which harmony, productivity, and success are built. This is the first step in converting a group of people into a team. Trust is built when there is no fear in being vulnerable and owning mistakes. The message that’s communicated is that we’re all here to help you learn to be the best you can be. In such an environment people are more confident in doing what is necessary to get their jobs done. When trust exists, there is a confidence in tossing the ball to other teammates to make the game winning shot and a willingness to take the loss if they don’t come through. This creates an environment in which managers and family members are supportive of one another.

  1. Effective Communication and Conflict Management

Communication is the conduit through which trust is built. The issue here is that most people believe they are excellent communicators. The reality is that we receive and interpret information in our own way and often it is not the way the communicator intended. Understanding the types of communication styles can help your managers and family members to be much more effective communicators, while also helping to navigate conflict. In such an environment, your managers and family members can engage in unfiltered and passionate debate. When there is an ability to navigate through conflict, there is a confidence in the relationships that says “we can endure anything that gets thrown at us.”

  1. Creating a Shared Vision and Purpose

When there is open debate and sharing of opinions around ideas and strategies, your managers and family members can develop clarity of purpose and direction. A shared vision is paramount to keeping everyone rowing the boat in the same direction. It leads to synergy rather than the discordant energy that exists without it.

  1. Commitment to Decisions and Action Plans

Commitment is a big deal. The goal is to build your managers and develop your family to understand that their commitment is not only to you as their leader, rather, they are committed to helping each other in the pursuit and accomplishment of shared goals that they have developed together.

  1. Creating Accountability to Performance

Accountability becomes the natural interaction between your managers and family designed to achieve mutually agreed upon goals and improve performance. Accountability is no longer a dirty word. It’s simply the byproduct of a team on a mission.

  1. Focus on Achievement of Collective Results

Empowering your managers and family to focus on their collective results inspires positive recognition and diminishes individuality from the culture.

Team synergy is a learned behavior requiring sufficient motivation to achieve commitment and buy-in. Developing a team is an arduous exercise that takes time. It shows your managers and family how they, as a group, can achieve more together than as individuals who are in competition with one another.


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