Family Business Tip #3 – “Communicate Early, Communicate Often”
Why is family and business communication so critical?
In the void of information, employees, family members and clients will “fill in the blanks” based on perception and mixed messages.
Provides for consistency and accuracy of management or ownership messages.
Non-family involvement in communication provides for external perspective and a benchmark for effective practices.
It is an opportunity to share directly what is important to family and business without a filter.
Transparency creates a more trusting business culture.
What are examples of effective communication?
Create "rules of behavior" or ground rules for the family and all meetings and abide by them - being family does not excuse boorish behavior or a lack of business etiquette.
Regularly scheduled meetings with set agendas.
Positive body language – being present in the conversation.
Often professional facilitators or coaches can be effective to help build good communication practices if they are lacking.
What should be communicated?
New business ideas
Succession plan, including leadership changes and timing (if known)
Where to communicate?
Family councils or meetings – largely focus on open communication and education. These are important, especially for family members not immediately involved in the business.
Management meetings – An important tool for any business, though few often communicate family matters to management. Non-family managers and executives are a critical link to communicating plans with the business.
Ownership or Board meetings – Having a formal Board of Directors/Advisors provides a forum for succession planning, estate planning and leadership development. Yet very few owners or businesses (of all sizes) often implement a formal Board.