I recently facilitated a meeting of five business owners, all of whom lead a business with other family members involved. They were gathered to share best (and worst) practices based on their own experiences. The discussion focused on bringing the next generation into the business, and preparing them to take the helm. Here are the most significant truths that emerged:
- The next-generation family member should start out “mopping the floors”. They need to earn the respect of other employees.
- Establish the discipline from Day One of differentiating between “talking business” as employer-employee, and “talking personal” as mother-son.
- A young family member in their teens entering the business, even on a part time basis, creates special challenges. Their lack of real-world work experience makes it harder for them to understand the necessary separation between family and business relationships.
- They need exposure, over time, to all areas of the business. Ascertain whether the organization can compensate for their weaknesses and allow them to play to their strengths if and when they assume the leadership position. Be willing to accept the fact that they may not be cut out to eventually run the business.
- You must manage your expectations, which may be distorted because you are personally close to the family member. Allow them to surprise or disappoint you, and make necessary adjustments to your expectations and plans as they do.
- Differentiate between compensation and business ownership. Compensate based on contribution to business results. Allocate ownership based on any family considerations you deem to be fair.
Running a business is challenging. Leading a family business adds another layer of complexity which only family business owners can fully appreciate.
Understanding Intrinsic Motivation
“I don’t know why, but I have no motivation right now to do anything with my business!” I occasionally hear these words or something very similar from CEO clients. Where does the motivation go? How does a business owner get that “Mo” back?
Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, offers some research and some suggestions, specifically regarding intrinsic motivation. He emphasizes that for those “right brain undertakings – those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness, or conceptual understanding –“, extrinsic motivation doesn’t really work. It has to come from within. “Those right brain undertakings” account for a heavy portion of the most important work performed by a business owner/CEO.
This leads to the question of what fosters intrinsic motivation in most humans. Pink’s conclusion is that it depends on “three nutrients”:
- Autonomy over task, time, technique and team
- A belief that Mastery is possible – that one can really get better at doing something
- Purpose – a belief that what they are doing really matters
Understanding this as CEO might lead to your becoming a great manager. A deliberate examination of how each is affecting your own current motivation might also open a path to self-invigoration.
A tool from my past
I’m a baseball fan and the start of a new season is always exciting. In addition to my interest in the sport, spring training reminds me of a business parallel – a comparison to a business in the mode of re-starting, or re-engineering, or resurrection. Two of the qualities you want to see in your baseball team during spring training are: Hunger and Health. Likewise, if you are leading a business with the potential for improvement, it would be good if you are also both hungry and healthy. Continue reading
A new year is launched and they’re at it again – telling us we need to formulate our New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (except…well… see below). But it occurred to me that this resolution concept might be useful in dealing with the challenge of the first step in the strategic planning process – articulating your vision.
Yesterday I sent to my family members a list of my seven “resolutions” for 2012. These were not goals – i.e., they were not specific and measurable in the manner of good business goals. Rather, they were direction-setting commitments. For example, number 3 was “to be increasingly creative in what I do.” Continue reading