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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Letting Go Without Giving Up Control

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Letting Go Without Giving Up Control

What happens to your blood pressure when someone asks you about your "exit strategy"? As uncomfortable and overwhelming as it may seem, strategically discussing an exit strategy along with business vision and growth goals actually puts you in the driver's seat. Sort of like athletes retiring at the top of their game - you are now in control by choice rather than by chance. Just as the building of your multi-unit franchise business happened over many years, the most effective exit strategy is deployed over time and is unique to your personal and business interests.

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Communication Overhaul

As a therapist, my most frequent request is to “Improve Communication.” The family will express they, “don’t communicate well,” however, what I find is that they do communicate well; they just don’t use appropriate communication techniques.

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How To: Jerk Proofing Your Business

Nasty people do more than make others miserable.  They create economic problems for your business.  And the problem is more widespread than most people think.  Especially in some occupations driven by a “sales” or “technical” culture.  So, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that your business  culture doesn’t have to become a hostage to jerks and bullies.  In a recent article (By Invitation:  Building the civilized workplace) appearing in The McKinsey Quarterly, Robert Sutton defined a workplace jerk as someone who leaves others feeling “oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled.”  

Jerks and bullies attack in any number of ways, whether in business or in family settings.  Some of the more common include insulting and sarcastic humor; turf invasions; status slaps; two faced attacks; verbal and non-verbal threats and intimidation; and public shaming or time-honored hazing disguised at team building (remember the Miami Dolphins scandal?).  Nasty interactions like these are more powerful than a locomotive, spread faster than a speeding bullet, and affect people five times more strongly than positive ones.  

These kinds of behaviors, often condoned because the perp is a great “producer” who brings in a wonderful revenue stream, can destroy an organization or a family in several ways.  Walls go up, morale goes down, customers and applicants stay away, and family members have as little to do with each other as possible.  Steven Covey, author of Principle Centered Leadership, talked about behaviors like these as withdrawals from an emotional bank account.    

So how do you prevent these behaviors from happening?  Our experience suggests that a variety of covenants – family, management, and organizational – help set the tone for building a civilized culture. A couple of well known companies like Gold’s Gym, Southwest Airlines, Success Factors, and Netflix have a “we don’t hire or keep jerks” covenant or policy.  It’s communicated in three ways:  verbally, in writing, and – most importantly – in practice.  If you’re not ready to part company with a jerk, don’t say you will when you know you won’t.  Your failure to do so speaks volumes.

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Sample - Operating Covenants

Download a PDF Sample

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Case Study – Strained Family Relationships Impacting Potential for Successful Succession Plan

Industry: Automotive 

Location: Northeast United States

Company Overview: Family-Owned Group of Auto Dealerships 

Succession Matrix® Issues: Family Dynamics, Management Synergy & Teamwork


Challenge: First generation car dealer looking to pass the business on to the second generation, yet no clear successor. Environment for children full of sibling competition fueled by dad as well as fear of the impression their father has created of them with the other managers and employees. The active son in the business was at odds with the CFO who he felt was his biggest threat for becoming the successor. The daughter was a stay-at-home mom who wasn’t sure where she would fit in if she did decide to come into the car business. The younger son was unhappy and floundering without a clearly defined role (but still taking home a paycheck).

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Are You In Constant Conflict With Your Partners - When To Know You May Need Help!

When I first met my wife, Patricia, I was head over heels in love. We came from similar backgrounds, had countless common interests, and our relationship was storybook magic. However, just a few years after our honeymoon, our marriage appeared to be less than ideal. With the advent of children and the increased time demands of work, no longer was my yin totally harmonizing with my wife’s yang. After significant soul searching we recognized that marriage is not a natural state; we also decided that we wanted to be married and that we were willing to work at being married. So we found a counselor to help us understand and deal with the good and bad that we brought to our union. Now, after 30+ years of counseling we have a marriage that isn't perfect but one that is getting better every day.  

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Vision, Conflict and Business

A clear, concise, well communicated, self-affirming vision is a critical component to the creation of an unstoppable family business succession plan.  However, just establishing a vision in this complicated world is not enough because in the business succession realm, this vision involves teamwork. Unfortunately those whom we endear, those whom we love, those whom we depend upon to continue our businesses and those who depend upon us for their careers can complicate our circumstances and the achievement of a succession vision that on a good day has many moving parts and on a bad day can appear mind boggling. In the midst of complications with family, key managers, lenders and vendors succession can become such a hassle that a business owner may want to isolate himself. Unfortunately this isolation is completely counter productive to the achievement of a vision that requires a team effort. Within the realm of business succession planning, the vast majority of these succession problems are cause by vision conflict. Allow me to explain this frustrating predicament and the remedy.

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Brand Bible?

What should be determined immediately is if "brand bible" is just being used as a cute term for core policies and procedures or do they really mean "Brand Bible."

The concept of using the term brand bible conveys that this document is the foundation or reference for belief, trust and faith. Inherent with the behavior, attitude, attained skills, knowledge and experience that are associated with belief, trust and faith there is the assumption that the business will grow in power, strength and resilience. However, this is faulty logic if there has been no process through which the brand bible has been proven as the source of strength as in Bible. In the absence of a profession of belief and faith by the rank and file employees and managers who are integral to the strength in the mystical powers of branding the use of the term bible is very assumptive. Actually, a safer presumption would be that all those exposed to the brand bible the first time will have doubt or even cynicism. 

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