We spent the last two weeks giving you all of the reasons and tools for having an effective annual family business retreat. I’ll use this week’s blog to outline the most common mistakes families make that can kill a family meeting.
A good family meeting involves proper communication that is well thought-out, and delivered way ahead of time. Our first blog about family meetings provides good content to give the family about why the meeting is occurring. Additionally, make sure and over communicate with people in advance the logistics and planning of the meeting.
Another important part of communication is listening. If the family is questioning anything about the meeting it’s important to be good listeners and have a good spirit in your responses.
Too much business education not enough fun
Most family meetings are designed to bring in family members who are not as involved in the business. It’s important to provide a venue for business education for the family and at the same time it’s important to have a good balance of education, team-building and a fun time.
The family will be well-served in the long run to build the business muscle in small doses over a long period of time. If you give them too much too soon, they’ll glaze over or never show up again.
Over emphasis on one branch of the family or a few family members
The annual family business meeting is a venue to build confidence and strength in all family members. Family members who are not involved in the business usually come to the meeting a bit reluctant and intimidated. It’s important to create a venue where everyone is valued and heard.
Create an approach that gives everyone the chance to talk, explore their strengths, and find ways to contribute to the overall success of the family.
Giving up too soon
Most annual family meetings are a little awkward at first. Family members aren’t sure how to act and don’t entirely trust the process – that’s a natural occurrence. Good family business leaders understand this phenomenon and make sure the family sticks with the process long enough to reap the benefits.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing families go from utterly uncomfortable and uncoordinated to strong cohesive and synchronized over the period of several years of family retreats. It would’ve been a real disservice to the family had anyone decided to give up in year one.
The annual family retreat can be an important part of creating a long-term sustainable family business. Smart families will pay close attention to these four common meeting killers and design and execute the family meetings accordingly.
Of course, if we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Play to your team’s potential!