Three Ways to Strengthen Family Connectedness

When the stakes are high and strength of the family is needed most, family businesses need to have some processes in place to build that strength before it is needed.   Here are some suggestions for family leaders who want to strengthen family connectedness.

  • Conduct family meetings. Working collectively toward a shared goal “builds the muscles” that help a family stay focused on the big picture. Family meetings are the setting in which the four elements of a strong family system -- cohesion, clarity, communication and competency -- are developed.
  • Create a safe space. Family members should not fear that they will be criticized for expressing their needs candidly at a family meeting.  Family members have a responsibility to discuss their needs and values; if these remain unknown, the business will never be able to accommodate them and they will surely bubble later as an issue for the business to resolve.  Be proactive, not reactive.
  • Learn together. Set aside time during family meetings for education and competency building. Conduct educational sessions on communication and interpersonal issues as well as on the financial aspects of business ownership. 

It is often a good idea to bring an experienced family business advisor into these meetings as a facilitator who can help encourage dialogue, lead the educational component, and develop a framework and rhythm for successful family meetings.

Successful family businesses don’t just happen.  Just as you need to take time to ‘work on the business’, you need to also make time to ‘work on the family’.