How Many Hats Are You Wearing in Your Family Held Company?

When you work in a private or public organization, your role is clearly defined; you do not face the ambiguity that comes with family and ownership. However, when you hold a position in your family company it gets complicated. As a shareholder member of the family you wear more than one hat. The tough part is figuring out which hat to wear when faced with a particular situation.

Three Hats

A family member may hold many positions within the organization. Regardless of their role, each member wears three hats as a shareholder that works in the family company, and each hat requires a different approach to the business. Deciding which hat to wear in a given situation is not always black or white.

Owner

Owners have a financial stake in the success of the business; they must see the big picture and focus on the long-term goals and strategy that drives the company to success. Their financial and emotional investment in the company is high and if the enterprise fails to prosper their entire economic well-being could be at stake. The pressure of being a business owner increases exponentially when the financial health of your extended family is also at risk.

There are many rewards and challenges that come with being an owner in a family held organization. One of the most stressful times for most owners is when the interests of the business conflict with the family. E.g., when the Director of Sales fails to hit established sales goals the company suffers a financial setback. If the Director repeatedly fails, they must be removed from their position in order to ensure the survival of the organization. In a typical employment situation, the Director would either be fired or demoted. However, when the Director is your brother you are not just firing a poor performer, you are negatively affecting the economic situation of your family member. In this scenario, the Owner hat must be firmly in place in order to make the correct decision for the company because erring on the side of the family could cripple the business.

Positional Role

Each family member working in the business holds a specific role in the organization. They may manage other family or non-family members, or be an individual contributor. They are still owners regardless of their position in the company.

Being an owner/contributor is a delicate balance. Your relationship with non-family staff can be complicated because they know you are also an owner. They may not be willing to share information with you in the same way they would with other team members. The good news is there are actions we can take to minimize the potential negative impact of the “owner” perception.

  • Hold everyone in the business to the same standards to reduce the risk of being treated as “the boss” rather than a team member.
  • Avoid calling family by relationship—i.e. use Susan rather than Aunt Susie.
  • Treat family as peers rather than relatives.
  • Promote the most qualified person regardless of family association by benchmarking the position within the company and appropriately aligning people to positions based on their knowledge, skill, and ability.

The goal is to remove the owner hat and focus on the job at hand.

Family member

Family members may decide to sell their interest in the company. Alternatively, they may choose to leave their role in the organization to try something new. The owner and job role are transient and subject to change--we make a conscious choice to wear these hats. We are born wearing our family hat; we do not get to choose.

The informality and comfort level we have with our family can make it difficult to treat each other as peers and co-workers. We may shout at each other and use harsh words during a disagreement; something most of us would never consider doing with unrelated co-workers.

Setting ground rules can help everyone understand when to wear or set aside their family hat.

  • Benchmark the position; define key accountabilities (KA’s) and objectives for each position within the organization.
  • Clearly define the level of autonomous decision-making authority for the job.

Practical Application

Stop to consider which hat you are wearing in critical situations, and make a conscious decision about whether it is the right hat. Mentally step back and try to view the circumstances objectively.

Find a mentor or external advisor to use as a sounding board when you are unsure which hat is appropriate for a particular situation. Remember, it is always better to seek counsel than to worsen the situation by acting incorrectly.

Establish a board of directors that includes members who are not family, who understand the culture of the company and are external to the organization. When the majority of the board members are independent, it takes the family bias out of the decision-making process and focuses objectively on the business at hand.


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.

 


Your Absolute Best

Your Absolute Best

Recently, an experienced sales professional asked me to detail how she could go about thinking purposefully about whether or not she had delivered her absolute best to her customer. This is another one of those questions that’s simple and complex all at the same time. (SIMPLEX)

In many cases, we have come to believe that thinking is something that happens automatically when we are faced with a situation, question or problem. On-going research involving the human brain shows that specific words and stimuli generate immediate response activity even before we consciously think and formulate the words we will speak.

While your brain generates an immediate response, a sort of first take, purposeful thinking requires that we use our brain deliberately to produce thoughts, judgment and reason. In order to purposefully think, we need a starting point for our brain: A place where it all begins.

When thinking about what it takes to deliver your absolute best, we need to define an approach (Process) along with the simple and practical actions (SIMPLACTION) you can take to advance the understanding, application and measurement of your absolute best.

The Starting Point

The starting point is self-awareness. As is often the case, we cannot see ourselves through our own situations or circumstances. We have to definitively understand and accept how our customers and those that we work with see and perceive us. Discipline of thought and self-awareness at this level leads us to think and reason in terms of the customer’s view (external), other’s view (external) and our view (internal). A lack of thought discipline and awareness changes the measure of your absolute best to the measure of your intended or delusional best.

SIMPLACTION: With self-awareness as the objective - consider the gaps, as you currently see them, between the external and internal views. Understand them as they are and as you desire them to be. Objectively measure, versus justify, the gap between your intention and reality. Be brutally honest with yourself.

The Critical Question

In this case, where it begins is with the critical question. The question is simple enough and yet requires purposeful reasoning and insight. How do I know that I’m delivering my absolute best?

SIMPLACTION: Establish your own critical thought in terms of what it means to deliver, advance or transform your absolute best in 2015.

Provide Definition

Definition begins with explaining meaning to bring clarity to your critical question. Delivering your absolute best to your customer and your company means you're your approach and process stands apart from all other sales professionals. Put in other words, you have established a benchmark of accountabilities, specific to your customer’s needs and wants that set you apart from your competition.

SIMPLACTION: Define what absolute best means to you in specific terms that are practical and measurable. This requires you to think and reason with yourself. Define the three to five actions and accountabilities that are associated with your absolute best.

 Gain Clarity

Clarity comes from the awareness we have of ourselves. The awareness we have of ourselves comes from knowing who we are as a result of our experiences, self-assessment, other’s input and the capacity to consider each of them with clarity and objectivity.

SIMPLACTION: Ask the following two questions of your customers, others that you work with and yourself.

  1. How do I positively stand apart and separate myself as a sales professional in my actions and approaches that puts me ahead of all others in your mind? 
  1. Where do I stand apart and separate myself in a way that puts me behind other sales professionals in your mind?

Action ahead of Intent

Delivering your absolute best in 2015 remains as a thought or intent unless it is acted on deliberately. While simple in concept, advancing an idea to action is made complex by the requirement of consistency. Consistency is paramount to delivering your absolute best.

SIMPLACTION: Act on the three to five actions and accountabilities that you defined as being associated with your absolute best. Remember that your customers reward repetition. The objective is to move beyond occurrence to consistency. You want those defined actions and accountabilities to become the cornerstone and representation of your absolute best.

 Measurement

The ability to measure provides an awareness of progress. Feedback from our customers and others that we work with is a form of measurement. Measurement that deals with whether or not we are delivering our absolute best can be affirming or intimidating.

Earlier in the article I referenced on-going brain research that shows how specific words and stimuli generate immediate response activity even before we consciously think and formulate the words we will speak.

This research also gives insight into the important of self-measurement in delivering your absolute best. As soon as you consider the words or thoughts associated with your absolute best, your mind has already made a decision before any words are ever spoken.

Having come full circle… Let me encourage you to consider this critical question:

As you prepare to advance into 2015, how will you define, clarify, act on and measure your absolute best for yourself, your customer and Your company?


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.

 


Three C's

Cooperation the Mortar that Binds and Builds

The last, yet certainly not the least of the Three C’s is cooperation. Cooperation is a person or group working together to achieve a common goal or benefit. Although it sounds simple enough in theory, the act of cooperating in our day-to-day interactions can be complex and should be carried out in a deliberate and thoughtful way--cooperation is simplex.

Cooperation in its simplex form is the desire to draw the best from each family or staff member, and the capacity to value the skills, talents and abilities they add to the organization. Where collaboration is the building block of a high-performance company culture, cooperation is the mortar that holds the whole thing together. No company becomes successful without frequent, purposeful cooperation between everyone involved in the business.

Not Like the Other

Although cooperation and collaboration are similar, they are not the same. For example, in the game of tug-of-war the team members collaborate—through discussion and skill assessment--to decide on the order of the team lineup. Once an order is determined, the team members line up in order and cooperatively tug on the rope to try to muddy the other side and win the game.

Sharing the Load

Cooperation does not mean being free of disagreement, and it is more than someone just doing what they are told. It means understanding that sometimes we must set aside personal bias and be bigger than the disagreement or opposing view in order to promote the common good.

Cooperation means sharing the load with those around you that have a vested interest in the success of the company. It also means that family members or people within the business are fully contributing their mind share, heart share and hand share.

Mind Share

We must rid our mind of mental baggage and be intellectually prepared to cooperate with others. Resentment is a barrier to cooperation and letting go of the anger and hurt will not only facilitate a cooperative mindset, it will also improve our relationships with others.

Heart Share

We must believe to our core that cooperation is the best option in achieving results through people. We also have to open ourselves to trusting people around us to do the right thing for the company. This may mean setting aside our ego and giving up control in order to allow others to take the lead.

Hand Share

We must commit to take on the heavy lifting, and take the actions that are in the best interest of the organization and mutually benefits others. No job is too menial or insignificant when it contributes to the success of the company.

Don’t be Annoying

As leaders it is critical that we develop an awareness of self in order to bring out the best in those around us. Antagonism, pettiness, and egotistical behavior are barriers to cooperation and exhausting to others. Most people will avoid spending time with people that consistently exhibit these traits. Reflect on whether any of these behaviors are limiting your ability to encourage and produce a cooperative company culture. If they are, then take action to change or minimize the behavior to encourage a high performing culture in your organization.

If you truly want your business to maximize performance, then develop family leaders who understand the value and importance of self-awareness in the form of transparent and authentic communication, collaboration and cooperation.

 


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.

 


Three C's

Collaboration, the Building Block of a High Performance Culture

Once you have established a firm foundation of effective communication in your family business you can focus on the second of the Three Cs—Collaboration.

Creating and fostering collaboration in a family organization goes a long way toward minimizing the dysfunction. A truly collaborative company respects our input, values ideas, and appropriately rewards contributions—things we all crave.

Collaboration Is

Collaboration means to work jointly or together. In its simplex form, collaboration is the relationship between multiple ideas that contribute to a better result or outcome for the business. Collaboration is the foundation of a high-performance approach within a family company.

Collaboration Is Not

Collaboration doesn’t mean consensus--general agreement and harmony. In fact, consensus is the antithesis of collaboration because meaningful, productive collaboration requires diversity of opinion and approach. Collaboration is based on working jointly toward common goals while respecting opposing views and engaging in respectful dialogue that values perspectives other than your own.

Capitalize on Diversity

Left to our own approach, the people we choose to collaborate with are people we know well, which can be deadly for developing new ideas. In order to leverage the power of collaboration, we must purposely seek out and welcome the divergent opinion and viewpoint.

Diversity is more than the color of someone’s skin or their ethnic background. Look around and consider the diversity that exists in your own family. Even though you may have been raised with similar values and beliefs, each family member comes with their own behaviors, motivators, experiences, capacities, and competencies. We are all gloriously unique in how we approach life and work!

Collaborative Pitfalls

Collaboration isn’t without its pitfalls. We need to be conscious of the challenges to working in a collaborative family company.

Over Doing It

There’s a reality that must be acknowledged—there can be too much collaboration! Collaboration can quickly become the brakes grinding advancement to a hard stop. When we try to collaborate on everything, we can find ourselves in endless meetings debating ideas rather than finding solutions.

It is important to focus collaborative efforts on projects that need a creative solution, rather than attempt to work on every detail of the day-to-day business. That is not to say that daily tasks won’t benefit from a team approach. Process analysis of small details can result in tremendous efficiency gains, but it’s critical that your collaboration efforts are focused on solving problems and don’t increase dysfunction or create inefficiency.

Disagreement does not Equal Disagreeable

The foundation of collaboration is discord and disagreement, but it is not okay to become disagreeable. When you become irritated or overwhelmed by negative emotion, take a mental step back and assess the situation. Is your irritation the result of something other than the current situation? Are you allowing family bias to influence your attitude?

Collaboration Killers

I am often confused when otherwise bright people place self-interest ahead of a collaborative outcome. Yet many limit collaboration because it requires them to step outside of their bias; set aside their ego, and leave their emotional comfort zone.

Eliminate Silos

Silos are not only collaboration killers, they can kill a company. For example, if a company’s manufacturing department finds a critical flaw in a part and no one tells sales to stop selling that part due to an organizational silo it could destroy the business.

Do Not Kill the Messenger

Trust and transparency are crucial to creating a collaborative organization. Few of us enjoy delivering bad news, and many of us won’t give bad news when we know that there is a “kill the messenger” culture in our company. Punitive behavior when someone brings bad news is the fastest way to destroy a person’s will to offer their opinions and ideas.

Make it About the We

Collaboration is about achieving results as a team. To maintain a collaborative culture we must prevent any one individual or group of collaborators from benefiting so much that others feel their inputs are being exploited.

Build a Culture of Collaboration

Building a culture of collaboration in a family company means taking the time to understand and inspire people. We must demonstrate that collaborators are vital to the organization.

The results of effective communication and a collaborative family company culture are cooperation, which is the topic of our next article.

 


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Three C's

Communication, the Cornerstone of the Three Cs

In our previous article we discussed the Three Cs of communication, collaboration, and cooperation. We explored how a breakdown in any or all of them can result in dysfunction in the family business—frankly in any business. We also discussed the idea of simplexity—breaking a complex concept or issue into simple, actionable points. Today we’ll delve into what I consider to be the cornerstone of the Three Cs; communication. Without communication, there can be no collaboration or cooperation.

Complicated by Family Dynamics

In a standard business model, bad behavior is quickly addressed through coaching and development. However, in too many closely held businesses the dynamic of “family correctness” disrupts the normal flow of constructive feedback. It creates stress for the family member and those around them when the family member cannot fundamentally do the job. The only correct thing to do is address this with authentic, transparent, and well-defined communication.

Defining Communication

Many times people define communication very simply – one person talking with another. While simple in theory, communication is very complex--communication is simplex. Communication is not just about listening more and talking less. Real communication is driven by a desire for mutually beneficial dialog and respecting and valuing the thoughts, ideas and input other than our own.

Communication in its simplex form means we take the time to understand how someone prefers to communicate; why they prefer to communicate that way, and how their communication style impacts their approach.

Understanding Different Styles

As complex as communication may seem, there are only four communication styles. At Perpetual Development, we use a TTI Success Insights Trimetrix HD AssessmentTM to analyze communication styles among team members for our clients in closely held and family companies.

Dominance

  • Direct
  • Big Picture
  • Determined

Strengths: People with a Dominance style see the big picture, willingly accept challenges, and exude confidence.
Challenges: This style may be interpreted as domineering, impatient, and blunt.

Influence

  • Optimistic
  • Collaborative
  • Persuasive

Strengths: They are outgoing, friendly, optimistic and collaborative.
Challenges: Can be perceived as flighty, shallow, and pushy.

Steadiness

  • Calm
  • Humble
  • Supportive

Strengths: Sincere, patient, and consistent best describes this style.
Challenges: Fears change and needs time to adapt.

Compliance

  • Cautious
  • Independent
  • Precise

Strengths: High level of accuracy and independence.
Challenges: Gets stuck in the “weeds” and may not relinquish control.

Understanding each communication style will help us become better communicators, because we can adjust our leadership approach and draw the best outcome from our staff. The strongest communicators have honed their powers of observation to the point that they can adapt their communication style to elicit the very best from others.

Styles Differ

Improving communication requires that we recognize and understand that we have different communication styles. Everyone has a dominant communication style; however people are a combination of all four. Each of us has a communication style that is our Achilles heel, or that is more difficult for us to use. Our dominant style often influences how we interact with others and how we are perceived. We also adapt our style when dealing with others.

Not Just One Style

Although we all have one of these four as our dominant communication style; very few of us use only one style all the time. There are times when a Dominance style may use Steadiness traits (calm, supportive) to diffuse a particularly volatile situation. Conversely, a Dominance style of communication may be required in certain circumstances--when we must make a quick decision.

More than Words

Words are only one of the ways in which we express ourselves, and often our behavior belies the words coming out of our mouth. How often has someone said he or she agrees with you while his or her head subconsciously shakes back and forth in the globally accepted motion for “no”? Their words indicate agreement, but their body language is telling you a different story. This is just one instance of how effective communication entails more than just speaking and listening; it requires observation.

Actions Speak Louder

I believe one of the secrets to becoming an exceptional communicator is honing your powers of observation because we often experience communication through the behavior of others rather than their words.

We often use action as a stand-in for direct interaction. When Bob does not receive a promotion, he feels he deserves he may show up late for work or “forget” an important meeting as a way to show his displeasure. Sometimes these behaviors are intentional; other times they may be purely subconscious. Either way, the behavior has a negative impact on the business.

Self-Awareness Plays a Critical Role

It is easier to point out character flaws in others than it is to see them in ourselves. However, the only way to adequately address dysfunction in others is to understand and manage our personal communication strengths and challenges.

Effective communicators have a heightened awareness of who they are and what triggers certain emotions or reactions. For example, Samantha is a self-aware leader that realizes she has a bias to hire and surround herself with people that agree with her. She also knows that diversity in opinion and background are crucial to the success of the business. As a self-aware leader, Samantha takes steps to minimize the impact of her bias by including people with differing values and backgrounds in the interview process.

Do you know your preferred communication style? The first step to being an outstanding communicator is to identify your style.

Practical Application

Real, meaningful communication requires what I like to call Full Mental Engagement  (FME). It takes focus and practice to hone your self-awareness and improve your communication skills.

The next time you are in a dialog use your powers of observation along with your ears to increase your understanding. Consider the following;

  • Do they demonstrate urgency or rapid pace of speaking?
  • Are they verbal and optimistic in their approach?
  • Do they prefer to do many things at once or do they prefer a steady and consistent pace?
  • Do they demonstrate a high degree of detail and follow-through, or were the rules invented for someone else—only followed when there is no other option?

We’ll explore collaboration in its simplex form in our next article.


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.