Have you ever noticed how we tend to hire fast and fire slow in organizations? That’s because leaders shy away from managing the performance of their under-performers. They avoid engaging in the process, instead choosing to shove their heads in the sand waiting for the wind to blow past them and everything to get better on its own. Have you ever had an under-performer who actually got back on track simply by figuring it out on their own?
Ostrich management, as it’s often called, simply doesn’t work. Underachievers aren’t likely to get better on their own. If they haven’t figured it out yet, what makes you think they will now? Under-performers don’t turn things around and become star performers without focused and intentional training and management intervention.
I have a CEO client whose direct report has not been meeting expectations for quite some time. Business has fallen short of the stated targets, and until very recently this team member – who is himself a C-level executive – didn’t even realize the company was consistently delivering unprofitable work under his leadership!
When I was 16 years old, I didn’t learn to drive stick shift from my father. Although I knew my father could drive a manual transmission, it was one of my friends whom I asked to teach me, whom I knew wouldn’t get upset with me for grinding the gears at first or increase the pressure with what is already a stressful experience and can be a difficult skill to learn. When I consider the many family businesses I have supported as an executive coach and family advisor over the years, it’s no different!
Successful Baby Boomer business owners don’t achieve their success simply by teaching others what to do. They achieve that success by being driven, results-oriented leaders striving to accomplish more than those before them. This strong character trait, however, often presents itself through a more dominant and autocratic leadership style – one that may work for the chief executive of a family business or the principal of a family office, but likely doesn’t work as well when you want to groom your next generation child to assume huge responsibilities as your successor. This is very likely why I’m regularly hired by NextGen children to facilitate their transitions rather than the Baby Boomers themselves.
One of the other key challenges with the father/son relationship is the long history these individuals have together. While I may have learned to drive stick shift from my friend, that doesn’t mean I was a responsible teenage driver. I earned at least a couple speeding tickets in my first year of driving, and even got into a couple minor fender benders. Now imagine if my father ran a multi-generation family business and allowed me to work for him. How do you think he would feel about his somewhat irresponsible and overly adventurous son taking the reins? My guess is he wouldn’t have given me the keys to the kingdom before I could demonstrate I had matured – and rightfully so!
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? Or maybe you strategically set goals for your company to achieve. Surprisingly, most people and most organizations do not actually set their strategic intentions at the beginning of the year. When they do, they often are simple statements like “I’m going to get in shape” or “We want to grow our business.”
These are great ideas, but they aren’t very well-articulated goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Other than tremendous luck or good fortune, you aren’t likely to achieve your true potential without setting very clear and specific goals. That’s why we always say that identifying your “lighthouse” is absolutely essential to achieving your personal and professional objectives.
Being committed to one’s own success can deliver powerful results. That’s because our intentions serve as guardrails to keep us focused on our ideal outcomes. Intentions also drive our near-term actions and keep us moving – one foot in front of the other, one day at a time – even during these challenging and uncertain times. Without well-defined lighthouse goals and a crystal-clear Vision for what matters most to us, we can easily be distracted by new opportunities that take us off course. We can also run out of energy without the clarity to keep pushing on.
I’ve had the honor and distinct privilege of counseling and advising numerous successful families over the years. It’s safe to say all of them wanted to be high-performance families and create lasting legacies from one generation to the next.
Not all families are able to achieve this intention though. After all, financial strength alone does not bring happiness to family leaders or their NextGen children.
In fact, family wealth often presents significant challenges for family members and comes with a complicated history and some odds that are often not in your favor. In fact, wealth often breaks down family trust and relationships. In addition, family members who are impressively successful in many aspects of their lives tend to be too busy or simply ill-equipped to celebrate their familial heritage and prioritize their family connections. Whether it’s a parent and child, two siblings, or even a few cousins, these family relationships are often ripe with relational chaos and an emotional distance that ultimately put the family’s significant assets at risk. Up to 90% of all families lose their wealth by their 3rd generation, and nearly 90% of all family businesses also disappear during this timeframe.
So, what does it take to be a high-performance, multi-generation family and not become one of these statistics? I was fortunate enough to speak with Chris Yount, former 3rd-generation President & CEO of his family’s business Fortifiber Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of waterproofing products for home construction. Here’s what he had to say about the real-life lessons he’s learned on what it takes to become a high-performance, multi-generation family.
According to Yount, there are three main pillars to be a high-performance family.
Family businesses are perhaps the most complex organizations combining two different and potentially conflicting value systems – the family and the business. Very few family business leaders successfully implement a “both/and” approach to managing this inherent overlap between their family and their business to effectively prioritize both at the same time. Neither is right nor wrong per se, and both very clearly serve a purpose. The question then for any family business owner is whether or not you prioritize the family or the business. Or do you do both?
Family-owned businesses are much more than just the oldest form of economic organization. They may actually be the most important to today’s economy! According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, about 90 percent of all businesses in America – roughly 5.5 million – are family-owned or controlled. More than that, these family businesses contribute over 50% of the U.S. gross domestic product, and they employ more than 60% of the workforce in our country.
That all sounds great, but the overwhelming majority of these family businesses will not succeed from one generation to the next unless we do something about it. Only about 30% of all family-owned businesses successfully continue from their first to their second generation. Third and fourth-generation family businesses are even more rare at only 12% and 3%, respectively. That’s quite frightening when nearly 90% of these same families’ wealth will literally disappear during that same timeframe when they don’t successfully maintain their businesses.
I support a lot of family businesses and regularly hear from my clients how they pride themselves on creating positive work environments for their employees where they treat everyone like family. That’s quite admirable, and I’m sure those employees very much appreciate it. The question though is what to do with all the employees who actually are family!
Family businesses by their very nature are complex organizations. It’s not just about managing and operating a sustainable business with a family business. It’s about the leadership and governance practices required to keep any family drama and unproductive relationships away from work. In multi-generation family businesses, we’re talking 20, 40, 60 and even 100 or more years of history running the company. On the personal side, that’s generations of family members living together and growing up together who need to work together to operate that same business. That can create a lot of added stress and anxiety – something that many family business leaders are poorly equipped to handle – on an otherwise viable business.
Have you ever wanted to change something only to realize that others don’t want to change? Whether you’re trying to implement a simple process change with your direct team or transform your whole company, organizational change doesn’t just happen because you have what you think is a good idea or because you want it to happen. People resist change for a variety of reasons, so it is critical to communicate what that change is all about to those who will be most affected by it if you want them to embrace your changes like you do.
Succession Planning: Strategies for Leveraging a Multigenerational Workforce
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Time:2:00pm – 3:30pm EDT
Location: Online webinar
Registration: Click here to register and receive more information.
Your organization likely employs multiple generations of employees, from Boomers to Millennials. With such diversity, how can you identify and coach your next generation of leaders? Which of their widely varying skills and motivations should be developed to have the biggest bottom-line impact on your organization’s future? Plus, there’s your Board: how can you gain their buy-in for a proactive and dynamic approach to succession planning? Join CHIEFEXECcoach CEO Dr. Jeremy Lurey on August 30th when he will share a proven approach for adapting to these rapidly shifting workforce trends in the workplace with you and other executive leaders. In addition to learning the crucial elements of a “NextGen” succession plan, you will also review an actual case study that shares real-world implementation lessons learned from a recent business succession transition. Click here or contact us for more information about this engaging and interactive webinar program.
Last week, CHIEFEXECcoach’s Founder & CEO Dr. Jeremy Lurey facilitated two separate workshops at the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses 2017 Spring Chapter meeting in Leavenworth, Washington. Attendees included family business owners and several key managers from the larger companies across the region. The first program called “Best Practices for Designing Your Always, Ongoing Performance Management Process” reminded everyone that performance management is not a once-a-year task to complete for HR. The second workshop called “Succession Planning & Developing Your NextGen Leaders” then gave these leaders some specific tools and techniques they can use to inspire discretionary performance from their teams. As the new Talent Management service partner for the entire association, Dr. Lurey will be continuing to facilitate educational sessions like this at other industry events throughout the year.