Family meetings are a great way to develop your family business team. Like any other meeting, the preplanning and agenda design can make all the difference for achieving success with the meeting.
Having participated with families for over 20 years, here are a few key elements to remember as you design your meeting.
You have to walk before you run
Smart family leaders realize they need to help their team warm up, stretch and methodically build strength and capacity. It’s important to make sure your first few family meetings don’t try to take on too many difficult topics too soon.
It’s important to help your team learn how to collaborate on some easier, less controversial topics before asking them to solve the bigger, harder topics.
Meet everyone where they are at
Great teams have a diversity of talents and interests. Successful family meetings have a variety of topics and exercises so that the event can help foster a variety of perspectives and ideas.
If the meeting is too heavily focused on any one area such as finance or sales, you might lose the attention of some participants. Try to create a space where you can better understand everyone’s aptitude and attitude across a wide range of important subjects.
Don’t forget the importance of “team building” time
It’s a common mistake to want to fill up the agenda with many interesting topics. Most often I hear family members say how much they appreciated time spent “just getting acquainted or reacquainted” with their family members.
Remember, a team that “plays together” stays together. Design exercises where people can share about themselves and their lives outside the family business. Those exercises will pay big dividends for the family in the long run.
Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint
I’ve watched families stumble a little during their first few family meetings. With a dedication to the process and a willingness to keep learning, those same families have some of their most productive meetings in years 4, 5 or 6.
Successful families realize the importance of a good, long-term strategy. Learning to host a consistently well-run family meeting will help create a strong learning foundation that can withstand some of the highs and lows that can come into a family business.
Did you know that Coach Pete and Family Business Performance Center can help you design and/or facilitate your family meeting? You’ll be able to sit back and enjoy being a participant! Our Family Business Playbook is full of useful articles and exercises for the entire family.
Play to your potential!
Pete Walsh offers family business consulting services, workshops, tools and resources as the founder of the Family Business Performance Center. Subscribe to his newsletter or get in touch to get actionable insights to help your family business grow for generations to come.
This exercise and many more are in my Family Business Playbook to help your family win!