The Key Ingredient to Perfect Harmony in your Family Business
In the new age of the internet we hardly use communication face to face anymore. Everybody tries to do more in less time through written online communication. Of course, it is great to be able to get a fast answer but it does not really help to build relationships. And without strong relationships in business, and in life, success is harder to achieve.
As well as consulting for family businesses, I am also part of a business my family owns. So I see everything from both sides of the fence!
In our own family business we solve any problems or conflicts by immediately getting the relevant people together. We then find solutions by frank communication while respecting the different arguments or opinions. In our family, we do the same thing.
Conflicts appear and deepen when people don’t talk but are upset or unsatisfied. Sometimes they are afraid to stand up and talk to the owner or team leader. So it is highly recommended to have meetings on a regular basis to encourage communication before issues arise. Of course, this can be online but always try to talk face to face, on Zoom or Skype, so you can see the reaction of the other person or persons. Body language will obviously not be seen by writing an email. And an email or message is easily misunderstood or misinterpreted.
When there are changes afoot in the company, communication is especially important. For example, if you are in the process of succession it is very important to communicate regularly with all your employees so that they understand what is happening throughout the process. They need to understand that it will take time but that they are in a safe place and protected. The younger generation might follow different rules to get their standing but this can be frightening for the old crew. „We always did it this way, why do we have to change it now?“ is a common reaction. Communication is the key to build trust and help the people to learn about the new successors.
Direct communication immediately clears frustration and fear. Sometimes people misunderstand the written word and start to discuss it among each other, which leads to more confusion instead of improving the situation. It is also important that we, as owners and managers spot miscommunication amongst our employees before productivity and damage is done.
Great communication helps to avoid mistakes. It also saves time and money as you can identify issues immediately. So train your leaders to encourage their team to search for answers first, discuss and then do the work. It is highly recommended to have regular meetings with the team to discuss their work, their improvement, their successes and the next steps. To strengthen their own self-confidence, appreciation is very important too.
The success of a family business is dependent on the conversations within the family and the family business. So the family should meet on a regular basis to be clear on the necessary next steps and to make sure they are all on the same page. In a conversation, it is much easier to find fast resolution by discussing and then deciding together.
The meetings will also ensure that everyone knows the part they play and what is expected of them. Issues can be resolved in a friendly and direct way without a lot of misunderstanding. It forces everyone to take responsibility for their work instead of hiding or making someone else responsible.
An excellent way to engender harmony in the company, to build relationships and goodwill and to say thank you to your employees is a summer or Christmas party. Regular company get togethers throughout the year are also a great idea. It helps everyone to get to know each other when they are in totally different surroundings and under different circumstances. It also gives your people the feeling of belonging to the family and company.
Communication with individuals on a one to one basis is also important to ensure that they are happy in their job, they feel that they have the right training and they are at peak performance. Everybody should love what they do, be using their key strengths and not feel overwhelmed or unsupported.
Once in a while there might be conflicts which you cannot solve on your own. That will be the time to reach out for a consultant, a coach or a mentor for your family and your family company. The consultant can be the mediator between the participants and help you to lead the company back to harmony and success. To learn more about this, set up a chat with me here.
What is your secret to great communication in your business?