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Does Your Family Business Need a Coach?

The right coach can aid a business in a multitude of ways.

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Are you planning to pass control of your family business to a new generation? Is your family business stuck in a growth rut? Are you experiencing issues like personality clashes or operational mishaps? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you might need a family business coach. A family business coach is essentially a performance coach that can help your company enhance performance on both an individual and group level — and ultimately boost your company’s bottom line.

Coach or Consultant?

Business consultants and business coaches serve two different functions. A consultant will generally assess the operations of your business, looking for ways to improve processes and efficiency. They will attend company meetings and spend time with different employees to get a feel for the organization before laying out a strategy that will help the company thrive. And while a business consultant and a business coach are ultimately striving for the same result — a healthier company — a business coach takes a more personal approach, working with individual people on individual goals while considering how these goals fit with the strategic goals of the company.  Like sports coaches who assist athletes in improving their performance, they help individuals enhance their performance in the business arena.

When to Seek Out a Family Business Coach

How do you know when to seek out a business and performance coach? In some cases — say when there are glaring performance issues with individuals in management — it’s obvious. But a business coach, particularly one that specializes in family businesses, can help improve your people and your company in less obvious ways, like “professionalism.” Most family businesses are run by entrepreneurs, who are dreamers and doers, but rarely stop moving — sometimes at the expense of the company culture. A family business coach can help executives see both the big picture and the details and help them instill a more polished culture and more influential leadership that will be more successful, and ultimately result in a more valuable business.

Another time to seek out a family business coach is when you are beginning to plan for succession — which you should begin at a minimum of five years out. For many family business heads, this can be a difficult time, as handing over control of something you built from scratch can be hard to do. The more valuable you are to a business, however, the less valuable the business is. A family business coach can help you ensure that your business can run with or without you, and help you navigate the perilous waters of personality and generational clashes when it comes to succession.

How a Business Coach Can Help

In my extensive work as a behavioral psychologist and business leadership coach, I have found distractions play a large part in hampering performance. Business coaches work to identify and limit our clients' distractions, both internal — including lack of confidence, critical or negative thinking, or anxiety (either self-imposed or resulting from increased pressure for job performance), and external — including a lack of resources to complete a project, a manager who is non-communicative or hostile, the company's compensatory practices, or its cultural and political environment. Through testing and interviews, we assess an individual's skill sets and evaluate distractions to help determine those which they client can control or influence and those which they cannot.

As a family business coach, there are additional dynamics to work through. Family business coaches work with both individuals within the family as well as with non- family managers to:

  • Help clients understand the often-complicated family dynamics and systems involved, thereby increasing our client's ability to manage relationships effectively;  
  • Advise how to manage all systems of the family business, including the family, governance and other operational structures;
  • Advise how to balance the family's core values with the demanding needs of the business;
  • Help clients understand the advantages and limitations of the system in which they are working;
  • Help clients create interventions that facilitate the achievement of their goals; and
  • Help enhance an individual’s skill set, which benefits the business, and, ultimately, the bottom line.

The Bottom Line

Bringing in a family business consultant is a net positive for your business — regardless of how successful the business is. Interpersonal relationships don’t show up on a balance sheet, but they have a significant effect on the bottom line. A family business coach can help you make your relationships and your business grow freely and unencumbered.




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