A new year is a great time to reflect, refocus and of course, make resolutions. Traditionally, we do this on a personal level but why not consider it for your family business too? Here are a few areas to help get you started.
Practise leaving work at work and home at home
While this can be very hard to do, it is the number one tip for family businesses as it offers clear benefits for home and work.
According to Vanessa Raphaely ( second-generation family business member, Associated Media Publishing), failing to delineate between the two poses great risk.
"Work can spread into everything, and successes and failures can pollute lots of families. To make the difference clear is very hard but … there has to be control and moderation on both sides."
Start practicing during family gatherings. Enjoy them as just that, leaving 'shop talk' at work. If conversations steer towards business matters, redirect. At work, devote the same amount of commitment to ensuring dealings remain professional.
Stop and celebrate your successes
Family businesses can be equals parts rewarding and draining. In amongst all the juggling of the complexities, it can be easy to overlook celebrating the successes.
In 2018, make it a priority to toast your family business success – be it big or small - as a group. You've all done the hard work and there's nothing wrong celebrating while you can. Be sure to relive the feeling when the harder times hit too.
Engage with your next generation
Spend some time focusing on your next generation. Find out the following:
- Do they know the family business story?
- What are their values? How can you incorporate those values into the current family business?
- To foster cohesion, is there a community or family business-related project they can get involved in together?
- If they are thinking about entering the family business, who might be a suitable mentor?
Nurture leadership in your family group - not just the business
When thinking about leadership in the family business, it's natural to focus on the 'big picture' – those who have the vision for the future and lead the processes needed to achieve it. But what about fostering leadership within the family group itself, as well as those in the family office?
Kathryn McCarthy, a global family business expert, suggests those families that recognise the difference in leadership roles - and more importantly, foster it - are likely to experience greater success.
"I have been working with a family … identifying what their strengths are. A place was found for all of them … Some of them lead the family office. Some of them lead the family investment activities. Some of them lead the foundation. Some of them lead the family. There is a role for everybody."
Devote some time to family business education
Family business education provides real power in enhancing many aspects of your family business. The new year is a wonderful time to reflect on how it can help your business processes, problems and people. An easy way to start is with some family business reading but think about digging deeper and undertaking some formal group education that you can all benefit from.
Write your family business employment policy
Remuneration in a family business can be a tricky subject to broach as it invariably leads to issues of fairness and competitiveness. While it's hard to avoid, you can lessen the likelihood of conflict by agreeing to and then documenting a clear family business employment policy.
- Together you should talk about:How a family member gets a job in the business (Do they follow a normal application process? Will they ever be answerable to a family member?)
- How is remuneration agreed upon? (Do family receive market value? Via salary or shares?)
- What experience does a family member need before entering the family business? (How many years' experience and what education level do they require? Is it compulsory to work outside the family business first?)
- Will there be a job description and annual performance reviews?
While this document will take time to develop, it will be a wonderful gift for your future generations. It's also a great foundation to build upon as your business evolves.
So those are just a few of our suggestions for your family business New Year's resolutions. If you've got any interesting ones you'd like to share, feel free to comment below.