Awkward! Family Meeting Retreats.

“I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of the five families”

The Godfather

We pulled up to the clandestine location for the secret, covert meeting. We made sure to cover our tracks and not let anyone know we were gathering. The subject matter was confidential and extremely sensitive. This was how our first family meeting retreat went down.

I’ll give our family credit for trying something new. We are great at finding ways to look at the big picture. But our first family retreat was a little uncomfortable and a lot awkward. Uncomfortable can be good, because it means you’re changing and growing. Awkward is, well, just plain awkward.

Working “In” the Business vs Working “On” the Business

When your business is growing rapidly, you’re totally immersed in the day-to-day running of the business. Rarely do you have the ability to step aside and look at the big picture. You’ve heard it called working ‘in” the business vs working “on” the business.

Most family businesses are motivated to begin strategic planning because of a crisis or difficult situation. In our case, our business was facing increased competition and we needed to grow the business more rapidly to remain competitive.

  • We needed to formalize our planning and prepare a strategic plan.
  • We had to extract our plans from our heads and put it down on paper
  • For the first time we were formally discussing the direction of the business
  • We needed to get the family on the same page.
  • We were inviting more non-family members into decision making positions and committees and needed a plan that could be shared with them.

Up until this point we were riding a wave of success and the sales drove the business direction. We needed to flip this around and determine where we were most successful and effective and create a more deliberate path.

Some random thoughts about family meeting retreats: More…

10 Signs You Might Need a Family Meeting

Family Meetings improve family communication and help to get everyone on the same page. These meetings aren’t just for resolving conflict and sensitive family issues. They are also an effective method for discussing the strategic direction and vision of the business from the family’s perspective before sharing it with others within the company.

10 Signs You Might Need a Family Meeting

  1. Avoiding sensitive family issues hoping they will go away
  2. Personal issues are creeping into the business
  3. Seldom discuss the future direction of the business
  4. Avoiding succession planning and ownership transition discussions
  5. Struggling with the division of responsibility between family members
  6. Need a policy for family employment beyond current members
  7. Dealing with the need of hiring non-family managers for the first time
  8. Struggling with compensation plans for family members
  9. Torn between being a lifestyle or professional business
  10. Disagreement on growth rate and need for outside financing

If you have some of these issues in your family business, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Research shows that 90% of family businesses don’t hold family meetings. Why not be a part of the 10% Club who do.

 

 

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