Face-to-face meetings between the members of a family business is one of the most effective tools for improving communication, building cohesion, sharing values, creating traditions and, ultimately, increasing the chances of sustaining an enterprise across generations. Summer can be the ideal time to bring your family and team together, but proper preparation is the key to making these meetings productive and successful.
It’s important that a family business meeting incorporate a broad array of viewpoints. With the school year over summer can be an ideal time for a large meeting when many family members will be free to attend. It may be the only time of year when families with school-age children can get away from home long enough for a constructive meeting to be held. This time of year, also allows for you to incorporate other team-building activities or social gatherings surrounding the meeting that are important to improve communication.
The guest list is the next item to consider. The basic rule is to invite anybody who has a contribution to make or who deserves to be heard. The reality can be far more complex. Often times family members may feel hurt if they are not included and/or may have personal issues they wish to discuss during this time. This is when an outside consultant or advisor, like REGENERATION, may be key to making these meetings successful. Beyond that, the guest list may be determined by age, employment status, ownership share or another criterion.
The location may be selected based on its geographic convenience to the largest number of attendees, or it may be in an appealing and perhaps exotic locale to encourage attendance and perhaps spur informality. Recreational opportunities for sightseeing, shopping, hiking and the like, when business matters are not at the forefront, help to build camaraderie and trust among family members.
The agenda for the meeting should be decided in advance with large strategic topics on the list. These topics can range from strategic movements in the business to changes in leadership or even setting goals for the future. However, the agenda should also leave room for discussion and the ability for participants to voice concerns and ideas in a supportive environment. Often a trained facilitator an help make this sort of large gathering effective and productive. REGENERATION consultants are trained to assist family businesses in navigating the tricky waters of strategic planning and family discussions.
Sensitive issues about leadership, influence, philanthropy and strategy are probably due to be discussed. That’s why family business advisors are often good choices to help design and facilitate a family business meeting. While the family is there to make the ultimate decision, a good facilitator is like a catalyst that helps crystallize good intentions into concrete plans and actions. A summer family business meeting is an appropriate crucible to forge just such a vision.
If you need help planning or facilitating the perfect retreat for your family business then REGENERATION can assist you.