Seven Es for Teaching, Coaching and Supporting Business Families
The trusted advisor relationship is complex and demands an alignment between the advisor and family based mutually shared values and behaviors about how the intervention will improve performance on the agreed goals. Business families require a well-articulated model that explains how they improve their performance by working with an outside advisor.
- Emotions: All business families experience emotional issues and conflicts. Successful families move beyond these issues and use their values about stewardship, connection and caring to drive their work together.
- Engagement: The foundation for any helping relationship is developing a working alliance between the advisor and family members based objectivity, personal relationships and professional competence.
- Education: The starting point for family growth and change is becoming a learning family. The advisor’s role is to be a teacher that facilitates the family’s learning of critical knowledge, skills and attitudes that influence performance and satisfaction.
- Edge: Improved performance comes from taking risks and moving beyond our comfortzone and requires creating a safe space so family members can fully participate. Taking risks together develops trust and a shared commitment to the family’s success.
- Energy: High performing business families are vision driven. They make a heavy investment of individual and family capital (time and talent) in exploring and testing new behaviors and plans to keep their family moving toward it goals.
- Empowerment: A long-term goal is to help the family develop the process skills required to address their issues on an independent basis. Twelve to twenty four months of focused work is adequate time to build a platform for independent family planning and action.
- Evaluation: We must agree on deliverables (outcomes) so that we ensure accountability in accomplishing our tasks. If actions are confusing or not effective we need timely individual or group feedback. Monitoring performance, ensuring results and modifying our activities is a part of the work process not an activity at the end of the project.
Confidentiality and trust are an integral part of the consulting process and the basis of my working relationship with the family. A goal of our work is to help the family learn about itself to create opportunities for learning and growth. I suggest three guidelines for confidentiality:
- Information told to me will stay within the family.
- Information that cannot be used to help the family should not be shared with me.
- Information from individual interviews or conversations will be used in an appropriate manner.
Learning Family Behaviors
Many families report that certain behaviors provide a foundation for successfully learning together. My experience as a teacher, advisor and therapist is that families that agree to participate together in a positive and respectful manner improve their outcomes and strengthen their family relationships. Your family may want to consider the following guiding principles:
- Basing family planning, decision-making and problem solving on Fair Process.
- Encouraging dialogue and constructive conflict while respecting individuals and perspectives.
- Exploring new assumptions, beliefs and possibilities for the family.
- Sharing a commitment to learn and develop together as a family team.