Coaching Family Owned Businesses
Working with family owned businesses represents a unique set of challenges including balancing needs of family members with the requirements growing a sustainable and profitable business enterprise. This needs to be done while remaining cognizant of founder’s legacy issues and the needs of key constituencies (family member owners, management, employees and customers).
I have coached multiple family-owned businesses over the past several years. My education and background (clinical psychologist/family therapist turned business psychologist/executive coach) has been extremely helpful in informing my work with this group of client companies.
Coaching in this setting requires a comprehensive perspective that includes understanding (a) individual owners aptitudes, interests and management strengths and areas for development, (b) family dynamics, (c) family systems theory (d) skill in dealing with conflict and communication issues that often that have strong historical antecedents and (e) evaluating talent and job fit for involved family members in a way that creates win/wins for all stakeholders.
As with all coaching, every situation is different…. but when working with family-owned businesses the challenges are more layered and complex. A viable coaching process involves being able balance individual and family group needs while at the same time setting clear goals as to what success will look like at the end of the coaching process.
What does success look like?
When coaching goes well, positive outcomes include (a) family members/owners doing a better job of separating out family dynamic issues from the necessary business decisions required in running a profitable enterprise (b) improved communications among family member/owners particularly when dealing with strong differences in business perspectives (c) better job-fit for individual owners/family members (within or outside of the family business) and (d) the opportunity to enhance and maintain positive, healthy relationships among family members outside of the workplace.