Nurturing Your Family-Owned Business Culture

Nurturing Your Family-Owned Business Culture

The Perception of a Family-Owned Business

With more than five collective decades of experience working within high performing family-owned businesses, our team understands how the traits of a family-owned business can be perceived as limitations or problems.

We see things differently. We believe a family-owned business like yours possesses the freedom to quickly transform your perceived problems into unique and enduring strengths that impact not only your culture and reputation as an employer, but your bottom-line success.

Foundations for Your Family-Owned Business Culture

Family Values & Organizational Core Values

Consider it a strength that the family’s beliefs are the foundation of your company core values. It’s what gives the company an authentic identity and unique culture. Those unique core values set the business apart, help determine right-fit employees and serve as the basis for every decision. 

Businesses evolve, families grow.  It’s okay – and often necessary – to update your organization’s core values with new language and energy while still holding onto the sentiment of the values set forth by a previous generation. Capture your core values – the real, authentic you – and use them as the foundation for every aspect of your employee experience, from recruiting to business processes to well-being efforts, without disrupting what’s already been built and championed. 

Core Values Elevation Example

We worked at a 40-year-old family-owned travel organization with five core values: Integrity, Innovation, Relationships, Wellness, Profit. While we can’t overlook the kudos deserved for “Wellness” being part of the original line-up, these values felt stale and didn’t represent the life of the organization or the people we impacted. After conversations with leaders and team members across the organization, those five values turned to six that could be repeated by team members across the organization, that drew in candidates, that redirected performance reviews and more: Be Unique, Embrace Change, Ask, Live End-to-End, Get Your Hands Dirty and Be Well, Work Well, Live Well.

The “Way” of Your Family-Owned Business

“That’s the way things are done around here.” Consider that a strength of your family-owned business. Organizations with a consistent system of operation increase efficiency because they eliminate variability, and this opens employees to be more innovative and the company to be more successful. 

Organizations that design and implement tools for quarterly and annual strategic planning, meeting design, hiring and team building, project alignment and accountability are well on their way to creating their unique “way” of working, or operating system. These practices create consistency and clarity.  

Individual executive coaching for family member-owners is also key, resulting in an overall stronger leadership team, increased effectiveness using proven tools and an overall sense of well-being – for both the organization and the family.  Coaching reinforces the “way” by leveraging honest feedback from an objective eye and, if it’s in the vision, sets you up to scale back your involvement or act as a consultant.

Leadership In a Family-Owned Business

You may have family members spread across different departments and levels at your organization. Celebrate and be proud of the family representation you have in each of those areas. When family leadership is represented throughout an organization, opportunities abound for quick decision-making, strong alignment and interconnectedness. 

Leveraging this strength, create your “Leadership Model.” You may have established your “way” of doing business through developing your operating system. Now it’s time to build upon it. With core values still at the foundation, define what it means to be a leader at your family-owned business. This requires a thorough understanding of your family dynamics and roles within your organization. Define leadership expectations for all leaders and invest in the development of your people leaders so you can create a sustainable practice of accountability and consistency.

Champion Employees Through Well-Being

As you know, the family members behind a family-owned business not only care deeply about their business’ performance, they also feel personally responsible for their employees. That level of personal investment creates an unwavering passion and a continual demand for excellence. Have you recognized that in your own leadership?

With values at the heart, your family-owned organizations can manifest your care and concern for employees in business practices and engagement programs that foster connectivity and personal growth. The implementation of proven practices around gratitude, teamwork and well-being can marry business and personal needs of the family to enliven your workplace community and create a foundation for business success. Get started by taking stock of your own well-being leadership and defining what your culture of well-being should look like.

Nurturing the Culture of Your Family-Owned Business

Unlike the need to quickly shift to virtual meetings, curbside pick-up or e-commerce, elevating your family-owned business culture doesn’t happen overnight. Start with values as the foundation, then grow your business practices, define leadership expectations and enliven your workplace community through team engagement. These practices create a new era of company culture that is relevant, celebrated and sustainable.

How are you thinking about the future of your family-business?