In honor of National Siblings Day I thought I’d give you a simple exercise to improve sibling communication.
An important part of family business succession is learning to create a strong team built upon respect and open communication. One key ingredient to building respect is to know how your performance is viewed by your teammates.
It’s one thing to give and receive feedback from people we work with, but it’s even more daunting when it’s between family members. Daunting or not it needs to happen.
The good news is I’ve created a simple, straightforward method to get this accomplished.
Set aside the time and space for this exercise. Create the right mood and backdrop. The backdrop will usually sound something like this:
“In order for us to be the strongest team we can be, we need to learn to be very straight with one another and be able to give and receive feedback. It’s the same skill we want to be able to demonstrate with our staff as well.”
Now take turns doing the following:
When I see you at your best I see (fill in the blanks)
When I see you not at your best I see (fill in the blanks)
The recipient of the feedback has a very specific response which is, “Thank you.” Nothing more, nothing less.
When you’re giving the feedback, keep it short and simple and try to avoid going on adding a bunch of disclaimers and superfluous background. Be straight and to the point.
When you are receiving the feedback, resist the urge to deflect, make excuses or do other uncomfortable things. Simply say, “Thank you.”
After going through the exercise you certainly can make time either in that meeting or in a subsequent meeting to explore what they said. That might sound something like this:
“Thank you for your honesty in the feedback. Can you say a little bit more about your feedback? Could you be more specific so I can do everything I can to change my behavior or your perception of my behavior.”
It’s that simple and I’ve watched this exercise work many many times. You can do this.
Remember one of the cornerstones of my coaching philosophy is that you’ve got to practice something to not only get good at it but to stay good at it. Giving and receiving feedback is a critically important skill for building a strong team and it’s one of the squares on my Family Business Decathlon board game.
Pete Walsh is a demanding, courageous and playful Master Coach in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the founder of Peak Workout Business Coaching and the Family Business Performance Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.