Relationship Building in Businesses

To travel on a journey with others requires a mutual respect and understanding. A  pre-planning dialogue seeks to generate a relationship that will be the foundation of positive communication, growth, and agreed upon direction. If there is agreement that the relationship is a good fit, a proposal would be developed outlining the process, timeline, and milestones. There is no one size fits all prescription for families or organizations; what is required is the ability to ask the difficult questions and raise the issues that are sensitive, yet must be discussed.

Three key questions to discuss with your advisers:
  • Where are we now? 
  • Where are we going? 
  • How will we get there?
Where are we now?

A critical first step in any journey and to understand the direction we will travel requires an understanding of where we are starting from. This understanding of the starting point may include assessments of family members and key leaders to understand their thinking style, leadership style, work approach, motivation, interpersonal skills, approach to work and the influence of others. An understanding of the organization will also be important to acknowledge the culture of the organization, how the organization learns and processes knowledge and the communication style of the enterprise. This step will include confidential interviews with both family and non-family employees, document review of critical information, and surveys. 

Where are we going?

The goal of a journey is to arrive at the destination. Realizing that no two journeys are exactly alike, the destination must be tailored to the family, the organization, and the individual. This process is critical for the realization and implementation of the goals and dreams of the family. Clear, frequent, and precise communication of the vision help keep all in the family focused. 

How will we get there?

The journey requires a plan. Each plan must be tailored to meet and address the needs of the family and the organization. These plans may range from an individualized development plan to prepare a family member or non-family member for leadership to an organizational development plan to set the organization in position for growth.  Commitment: Journeys that are critical to the ultimate success of individuals and the organization require commitment. The commitment is best when considered in the frame of a holistic approach. This means results are best achieved with more than just a single event or item. The preference to work over time to develop the capability of the family to manage their own governance and decision making contributes to being  fully functioning at the crossroads. Since the family business is the way of life for the family, conflict is typically manifested as both interpersonal within the family and carried over into the organization. This process creates a road to travel that is safe, allows the freedom to openly discuss where the family is going and how they plan to get there. With the commitment to the process there is built in accountability to keep everyone focused and on track. The goal is to help the family business operate successfully while recognizing and dealing with normal family issues.  The family business is a way of life; it is the future of who and what the family and family business will become.

Nadine Lia
Regulator for Family Businesses

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