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Successor Development: You've Selected Your Successor, Now What?

Now that you have successfully selected your successor, what do you do? If you’re developing a family member successor, the most important thing is to have them go work somewhere else before entering the family business. Learning how to be an employee in a place where your last name means nothing is very valuable.

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What Activities Should Be Required In Your Pre-Employment Program for Family Member Employees

 A Family Member Development Curriculum is a key ingredient for effectively bringing in a Family Member Employee (FME) into the business. As I expressed in a previous post, this curriculum yields the highest results when it is developed, monitored and periodically refined by a team that includes: the family member employee, the working parent or senior officer, a business mentor who is not a supervisor, an independent Certified Succession Planner™ and the current supervisor of the organizational department that the family member aspires to work or is working in at the time.

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Why You Should Create A Family Member Employee Development Team

I am constantly being introduced to family business owners who are just “winging it” with respect to preparing their family members to assume greater responsibility, contribute to productivity and ultimately assume a command and control position. The net result of “winging it” is that the family member generally floats around without genuine accountability and never makes life complicated for managers who would otherwise be held responsible for his/her development. Unfortunately, the average aspiring family successor entering a business has no more clue as to what they will encounter, what is expected of them and what respect, rights, compensation, benefits, etc they should anticipate than a naïve freshman entering college.

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Why You Should Create A Family Member Employee Development Team

I am constantly being introduced to family business owners who are just “winging it” with respect to preparing their family members to assume greater responsibility, contribute to productivity and ultimately assume a command and control position. The net result of “winging it” is that the family member generally floats around without genuine accountability and never makes life complicated for managers who would otherwise be held responsible for his/her development. Unfortunately, the average aspiring family successor entering a business has no more clue as to what they will encounter, what is expected of them and what respect, rights, compensation, benefits, etc they should anticipate than a naïve freshman entering college.

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Create Family Harmony Using These Three Words

Family communication and harmony are components of the Succession Matrix® that can support or undermine succession planning strengths and weaknesses. As I work with families engaged in business, I come to the conclusion that harmony is a common goal of all except those consciously committed to terrorism and chaos. Although there is a limit as to how long we can hang out with some family members, putting aside current resentments most of our wants are stable emotions and to interact with family members as joyfully and productively as possible.

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How to Find Common Business Goals Amongst Diverse Family Members

 Families consist of diverse personalities which inherently reflect the greatest challenge to harmony and productivity. There appears to be no end to the challenges presented by divergent personalities within a family. Nothing appears to accentuate inner family personality differences more than an attempt at business collaboration. Those families dedicated to unity and harmony achieve admiration and those who are prepared to do whatever it takes to get attention or make their point, regardless of the emotional collateral damage, create stress and achieve bizarre goals.  Just like the evening news, little attention is paid to the good guys who are affirming unity while headlines are given to the ones who are making life miserable for the rest of the family. In reality it takes conformist to start and build a family business and it generally takes “self aware” eccentrics to achieve extra ordinary levels of success.

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Wipe Out Enablement Attitudes - Rights Versus Responsibilities

No matter where you stand on the immigration law, one thing is painstakingly clear. Our country is obsessed with protecting everyone’s rights with little to no concern for their responsibilities. Somehow we seem to suffer from affluence guilt that leads us to feel it is our responsibility to take care of everyone on the planet, and perhaps more accurately, that everyone on the planet has a right to be cared for by the U.S. 

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Is Your Family Business Out of Balance? What You Should Know About the Family Business Equilibrium

Throughout my years as a business succession advisor I have witnessed a familiar set of actions and consequences across varying business types, which have resulted in constant turmoil and an imbalance in the “Family Business Acceptance Equilibrium.”   Since I have experienced so many businesses’ struggling with this common issue, it led me to give thought to why???  The culprit appears to be a confliction of attitudes that is blind, self centric and places a higher priority upon feelings, values or beliefs of one family member or key manager(s) versus the welfare of the organization as a whole. 

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Why it Takes 10 years to Confirm a Successful Family Business

Classically I believe it takes ten years to achieve confirmation as a “successful family business”. Up until approximately that point in time family leadership is being tested to determine if it has the moxy and versatility to maintain a workable balance and move closer to the optimum Family Business Acceptance Equilibrium unique to that family and business. Up until the ten year point from my perspective, most leaders do not know if compliant family and staff are simply tolerating insensitive “what have you done for me lately” conditional acceptance or appreciating the constant reaffirmation that “we are fam-a-ly” unconditional acceptance.

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Family Attitudes and Business Issues

More often than not, a weakness in what was prematurely perceived to be a successful family business is a reflection of predictable environmental wear and tear on both relationships and processes. Usually this wear and tear is due to the inability to achieve or maintain the Family Business Acceptance Equilibrium or Family-Business balance. 

Relationally, there may be great harmony or operationally  impressive nothing-slips-through-the-cracks accountability, however; regardless of past achievements, as a family business matures   success in both harmony and productivity that was initially easy to achieve   begin to be more challenging. Initially family members, eventually employees and ultimately on lookers recognize that there is something amiss. Business is no longer sufficiently gratifying for family members or productive for managers. Typically there is growing dismay as to why the business has become so difficult followed by the expenditure of significant time, energy and consulting dollars trying to tune up processes and procedures when the culprit lies within the culture of the business.

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Keys to Effective Leadership for a Family In Business

Family in business can be a significant advantage or a reciprocally significant disadvantage. The absence of respect and/or trust between the members, regardless of a common gene pool, confirms just a struggling Blood Related Business Group not a family. The struggles are known to all group dynamics as in rivalry, resentment, pay-back and other bizarre behaviors and attitudes that attempt to provide protection from perceived flesh eaters. Love is no antidote to the ills of this environment and predictably amplifies the frustration and anxiety associated with the disrespect and distrust from loved ones. In the absence of love, the rational members of the BRBG generally stop taking the abuse and move on to a more tolerable and reasonable environment. Whereas respect and trust provide inherent productivity advantages, distrust and disrespect provide an equally if not greater disadvantage.

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How to Break the Power of Addiction

In my last post, I discussed the cycle of addiction, which is a common issue I see in working with families and businesses. As a reminder, the cycle consists of several parts: some negative emotion, triggers, rituals, acting out, and back to the negative emotion.

To start breaking the power of addiction you must identify the various aspects of your addictive behavior as it relates to the cycle above. A good way to approach this is to start with the seemingly trite statement I made in my last post that “the only way to break the power of the addiction is to stop engaging in the behavior.”

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How Important is an Operating Board of Directors for Your Family Business?

I am just back from an Operating Board of Directors meeting with a long standing client that brings to light several important business succession theorems. As a refresher, an Operating Board of Directors is a Board of Directors that actually operates. In contrast, ninety-nine percent of the Board of Directors of closely held companies are perfunctory. The directors never actually meet or provide oversight accountability. The attorney or Secretary prepares boiler-plate minutes for directors to endorse and satisfy annual regulatory requirement.  I had convinced this Board consisting of a 77 year old widow and her two sons that it was prudent to come out of their offices and endeavor to work together to provide oversight to a recently hired new CEO.

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Operating Board of Directors - Members Vs. Participants

So as previously described, an Operating Board of Directors needs a plan of operation. Just coming together to discuss operations and hold management accountable does not work. The plan will deliberately address what part of operations should be discussed and what is a waste of time; what are reasonable benchmarks for management accountability? These are reasonable questions that do not get addressed by random luck. There must be a plan and a process to get the most out of the time invested in an Operating Board of Directors.

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5 Methods of Dealing with Conflict and When They Should be Used

Over the many years of its existence, the human race has developed five primary methods or protocols of dealing with whatever type of cultural, interpersonal, or intrapersonal conflict may occur.  Depending upon the issue, any one of those five can be the best match for the circumstances.

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Is Your Family a Liability to Business Value?

“We want you to be part of our family” is the common accolade. “We want to think of you as one of our children and we hope you feel the same. Make yourself at home and we will treat you like one of our own.”

To be considered a part of the family is a compliment in any social setting. You have standing. You can be counted upon and you can expect the benefit of the doubt. The more perceived social, political or financial power imputed to a family, the greater the compliment. Within the family business realm, being told you are a member of the family generally creates an immediate feeling of prestige reflective of the depth and breadth of the family’s business.

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Aging Parents? What is Guardianship and Why You Should Do Everything to Avoid It

Many of us have moved from home and have ageing parents at a distance. This distance does not impact our love or concern. We stand ready to fly in and provide care and attention in the event of the inevitable needs or challenges associated with ageing.  Beware of vermin lying in wait for good intended children endeavoring to attend to parents at a distance!  Specifically, as I have personally experienced over the last six years with my Mom and Dad several states away in N. C. from which hopefully you can avoid problems associated with long distance guardianship or probate. 

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What You Should Know About a Long Distance Probate

The challenges and opportunities of careers have moved many of us away from home. Many of us continue to enjoy going back for a dose of that unconditional parental love and to hang with old friends.  However over time, we become aliens in our home towns unable to relate to an environment that does not seem to keep up with time. Furthermore, as many of us have learned, there are challenges associated with attending to ageing parents from a distance.

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Criticism is Criticism Irrespective of Intentions

As mentioned previously there are two issues implicit to this question. I previously addressed the motivation of an adult child when affirming the desired behavior has not worked and “tough love” is not practical because the reaction of the non conforming child is intolerable.  Unfortunately there are not many options other than what I described: avoiding confrontations to maintain a relationship while conveying “be respectful because your current behavior will impact your access to my estate after my death”.

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Family Business Issues: Love, Tough Love and Letting Go

“Loyd I have tried tough love and it did not work.”

Such was the frustrated, emotional exclamation of an 83 year old business owner trying to deal with a 58 year old son who was apparently acting like a teenager. According to the explanation, irrespective of pleads by his parents who were technically in control of the business, the son would spend from the family’s business on his personal desires and wants. Based upon the dad’s description, the son stepped across the line one day and could not tell the difference between the reasonable and the ridiculous.

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