You may wonder what Christmas has to do with the operation of a business. Depending on the nature of your business, it may be either the busiest time of the year or the most relaxing time of the year. But in all cases, Christmas is a fantastic opportunity for families to spend time together and to work on the family component of their business.
Successful business families recognize that the family component of their business is just as important as the ownership and business components. When families are aligned or are experiencing energy, excitement and happiness in their family, those experiences are often reflected in decisions made by the owners of the business, which subsequently impact the bottom line of the business. Conversely, when families experience discord, suddenly everything about the business becomes more difficult and complicated.
The old saying that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ is very relevant for business families. If your family get-togethers are all about work and the business, you might have forgotten about what made your business thrive. If you haven’t previously implemented elements of fun in your family that engaged everyone, you might have unintentionally alienated those members of your family that don’t work, or have an ownership interest in the business (and watched them either eat silently at family dinners, saw them to be the first to get up to help with dishes, or be the first to leave).
If you are gathering your family at Christmas, it may be a perfect opportunity to bring your family together to have some fun, to bond, and to celebrate that you are a business family.
A simple exercise that you may want to try is the following:
- Gather everyone together and ask them each to describe their favourite Christmas experience. The stories that mom, dad and the kids are likely to tell are bound to get everyone reminiscing and engaged. Have someone write these down so that everyone can see and reflect on them.
- Then have everyone describe what it means to them to be part of a business family and have someone write those thoughts and feelings down as well. Understand that there is a balance to be cognizant of as some members of your family may look to take the easy way out and say “mine is the same as hers” (and these family members should be encouraged to at least restate what was previously said), while others may have nothing positive to say (and everyone else needs to understand that everyone in your family is entitled to his/her own opinion and to not comment or feel a need to respond).
If you take on this exercise, you should be congratulated as you will have just had your first family meeting! Hopefully, it’s both positive and unifying.
For those members of your family that are crafty, there’s a great opportunity to take the memories that have been written down and create a keepsake that can be shared with, or added to by, future generations of your family.
For those of you that have taken on the second step, you will want to promise to everyone that you will do a follow-up to their comments in the New Year.
Follow Up Family Meetings
Depending on how successful your first family meeting was, you may want to share the notes with a FAMILY ENTERPRISE ADVISOR™ who could then assist in the next family meeting. The FEA can then assist you and your family with subsequent family meetings to avoid the ‘surprises’ and manage the unresolved issues that may have always been present in your family.
For more information about FEA’s, or to find a FEA to work with your family, go to https://family-enterprise-xchange.com.
If you have a question or issue that you would like to read about in future columns, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to revisit past columns, they are all online at www.yourfamilybusiness.ca.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.