I was referred to a family business that was having difficulty communicating without feeling personally attacked. Each of the family members was working in the business . The mother of the owner had requested the meeting. My first hour with them was spent observing the way they interacted with one another. In some moments the interaction was pretty volatile.
After spending time listening, it was time to move forward. Situations like these can feel overwhelming and stifling to members of the family, I have found that starting with a simple question can move the group into a more open posture where progress can begin.
In this situation, the question I started with was, “On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being the greatest, how much do you like your work?” No one gave an answer greater than 5, most were 3 or 4. They had lost their passion for the business, and the family was suffering from it. It was both comforting and validating for family members to understand that others had similar feelings to theirs and this helped put everyone into a better position for listening and sharing.
As we explored, what we found missing was a solid CORE, defined and owned by everyone. Several of the siblings were doing a ‘job’. There was no continuity of talents to promote healthy personal interaction. It seemed like every statement was an attack on one another. It was obvious there wasn’t any alignment between a CORE operating process (not well defined) and the talents running the company. The Owner told me that the company was not growing at all. As a matter of fact, their revenues had been dropping by 10% for the previous two years.
What became evident was that what had gotten the business to this point in its development would not propel it forward. Several essential elements in growing a company are largely dependent on aligning the talents appropriately with the CORE of the business. Without a defined CORE (the keel to keep the ship in balance) the business will become rudderless and have no clear direction. With our expanded understanding of the current circumstance, and a commitment to creating a strong CORE that starts with valuing human capital and empowering them appropriately, our work began in earnest and yielded amazing results.
“How much do you like your work?”
If you asked your team that question, how would they answer?
Terry Schaefer offers a complimentary 30 minute call where you can explore how to grow your business past your own expectations.