I heard Bill Belichick, Coach of the New England Patriots say, “Bowling and movie night is one of the most important and enjoyable nights for our team every year.”
It’s hard to question his formula since Belichick has won six Super Bowls. That’s more than any other coach in NFL history! He went on to say that getting to know each other and having some fun were an important process of building team chemistry and identity.
The same could be true or even more important for family business teams.
Learning to have some fun and spend time together is an important deliberate practice to build long-term team chemistry. I’ve watched firsthand as family teams have evolved and bonded over a several year process of learning how to come together and have fun at family meetings.
Too often families can’t get past the first, and often awkward, meeting or two. Great family leaders know how to encourage the family to “push through” that initial awkwardness to get to the more fluid and enjoyable family get-togethers.
Belichick said that players weren’t overly enthusiastic about it at first. As they stay members of the team, over time they really begin to trust and appreciate the value of movie night.
So my question to you is…
Do you and your family team have a regular practice of getting together and learning how to have fun together?
If not, why not? What’s getting in the way?
Having fun together gives everyone an opportunity to forget about the business or the current or past challenges and really get to know each other and appreciate one another. When a team becomes more connected, they become more flexible and motivated to work together to find common ground and common solutions for their challenges.
It doesn’t have to be a several day retreat. It can start with an informal dinner or fun activities like bowling or go-kart racing. As the family becomes more comfortable and trusting of the process, the family can really begin to get synergy and camaraderie toward the business and long-term family success.
Many of my championship-level family businesses are in their 10th annual family retreat. The retreats involve a nice mix of socializing, fun and business updates.
What would happen if your family could start learning how to play together? What’s it going to take for you as a leader to make that happen? Please lean on me if I can help in any way. I’ll be glad to share some “templates” for setting you up for a successful family meeting.
Camaraderie is one of the 10 core skills families learn and practice as part of my Family Business Decathlon Training System. Email me if you’d like to learn more about the system.
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.