Working together with our clients, we advise business families through the different stages of their life cycles – helping them to recognise and solve tomorrow’s predictable problems, today.
Values are the glue that keeps families and businesses together. A clear set of strongly aligned values can underpin a culture which not only creates competitive advantage and loyalty within the business, but also ensures continuity of the family, and the avoidance of disputes.
We help our clients articulate, codify and celebrate their family values. This improves family harmony and enhances the family’s ability to speak with one voice.
Family businesses have a potential competitive advantage: they are dynamic and yet they take the long-term view – while they can make decisions and act quickly, they are also able to plan for the future without being pressured into finding a quick fix. From our experience, however, families often do not have a clearly defined purpose, either for their businesses and for their families.
We help our clients identify and align around a shared purpose. In articulating what the family stands for, what binds it together, and why ownership of the business continues to be important, family members will be in a far better position to communicate with each other and pass on these ideas to succeeding generations.
Business families can significantly improve their chances of enduring success by planning their future together, establishing clear policies governing their relationship with the business, defining the responsibilities of family members, and creating processes and forums where family issues can be openly discussed and actively managed.
This is a complicated area, and our role is to facilitate discussion and advise clients on the design and implementation of governance structures that are best suited for their family, and to enshrine their values, principles and agreed governance structures in a written charter or constitution.
A family may put in place world-class governance structures, but they will only flourish if family members are both motivated and equipped to play an active part. For some, this may mean working in the business; others may prefer to make their mark by promoting family togetherness; and for others still, it may simply be about contributing as a responsible family shareholder.
We can help clients identify the skills and support they may need to offer to family members at all levels of participation, whether it relates to the selection and development of people to represent the family on the board, or to the design of a programme to educate the next generation about the business, ownership and family heritage.
Family businesses evolve, and periods of transition can be critical: priorities change, attitudes change and management styles change. There is no issue, however, that carries more risk to family enterprises than the transition from one generation to the next: it can often make or break the business.
Succession should be a process, not an event, which can be managed over time. We work with families to put in place clear plans, structures and processes to ensure successful transitions.
Given the nature of a family business, differences of opinion between members are inevitable. The danger arises when these differences go unexpressed and lead to unresolved frustrations that bubble over the surface.
We believe that acknowledging these inevitable differences - without letting them develop into conflict - is important to the long-term success of any family business. We work with our clients to create a safe, ‘no blame’ setting for difficult issues to be raised, options for their resolution to be discussed, and alignment to be reached.
© Peter Leach Associates 2020