Getting Past Dysfunction In A Family Business

Dysfunctions a Family Business

Not just the mom-and-pop shops of old, but many small businesses get proudly handed down from parent to child and beyond. Most family businesses like this have at least two generations still actively working in day-to-day operations. Sometimes that creates tension… and lots of it. But getting past family dysfunctions in the business can help them grow into a much stronger, healthier organization.

The Dysfunctional Family Leadership Team

As a Certified EOS Implementer®, I work with many owners of family businesses. Usually, the entire leadership team is related in some way. Sometimes the original founder won’t officially hand over the keys to the kingdom to their kin. You can tell they don’t trust the next generation to run the business like they would. And they’re usually right, they won’t run it like them. It can take a lot of convincing that different doesn’t always equal “wrong.” They see it as a rejection of what they’ve built.

A few companies I’ve worked with have grown in spite of the family bickering. They keep growing, but not as much as they could grow. The in-fighting holds them back from becoming the best in their industry. And even if the leadership team doesn’t know it, their clients do, and their employees can feel it, too.

Taking It From The Kitchen Table to The Conference Room Table

I sometimes feel more like a family counselor than an Implementer for a business. Family members can bring a lot of hurt with them to the conference room table. They may have gone years holding grudges and hidden agendas and find it hard to disassociate from those old wounds.

With some clients, we have to spend time sorting out family quarrels before we can get to the business issues. Level 10 Meetings™ become more about issues from the kitchen table than for the business at hand.

For any non-family leaders who didn’t eat at the dinner table last night, things can get pretty awkward. I’ve seen plenty of navel gazing and window watching as they wait for family members to verbally duke it out.

It All Boils Down To What’s Best for the Business

Ultimately, every family member should want what’s best for the business. By being honest and open with each other, they can get back to that. A lot of times it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion.

To get past all the drama, we have to tie everything back to what will best serve the company. We focus on the bigger picture. We talk about what’s best for their clients and employees and ultimately what’s best for them.

The beauty of the EOS Process® is that it breaks things down to objective data points. The subjectivity falls away. By focusing on their Vision/Traction Organizer™, we can get back to the core values.

The owners remember what they’re in business for and what is truly important. I love seeing the passion return to my clients’ eyes when they have aha moments.

This is why I love living the EOS Life®. I get the chance to do the work I love while making an impact on a small business. I love to make a difference in their lives… even if I can’t bill them for the family therapy sessions.

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