The Facilitator is able to help in a Four-Way-Process to help Business Families transit generations, and free the owner group of unnecessary pain.
1) TALK : Confidence and Trust in one another is the life-breath of partnerships and the continual health of the family business unit is unequivocally dependent on it. It is easier to strengthen the process of building and keeping trust and confidence while the partners are already strong in this area rather than after a loss or deficit of trust has crept in.
While many informal conversations do take place, often the necessary conversations no longer happen and are taken for granted. No family member wants to bring up a certain point for discussion as it would seem too embarrassing and unnecessary, or he/she simply doesn’t know how to bring it up.
Often the relationships are so strong that too much is taken for granted and little is spoken about until a crisis hits and reveals the lack of trust or confidence that seeped in.
The Facilitator is able to ensure that specific topics are necessarily discussed and is able to own the need for the group to regularly meet and speak about a variety of issues that they may otherwise have been discussing individually or informally or not at all. The facilitator brings about the process of conversing especially on touchy, sensitive, nobody-wants-to-own issues.
He also formalizes the process of conversing and ensures that things, which need to be spoken and discussed, are done.
The Facilitator has no agenda of his own, but is able to listen to individual stakeholders and understand their points of view. When misunderstandings occur, the Facilitator is a good tool to align different perspectives. He can help individuals climb over the fences they have built over experiences they have had with a sibling/parent in days gone by and see that things are no longer necessarily as they once were.
The Facilitator is a good tool to use to explain things reasonably to individuals without the emotions of familial bonds flaring up when issues are not understood or perspectives are not being accepted.
The Family Business Unit has to continually talk. When they stop talking they stop resolving issues. The Facilitator is used to develop the facility and strengthen the process of having the important conversations.
2)PLAN : Family Businesses typically delay the need to change until external crisis’s build up forcing the change.
The Facilitator, thru the process of conversations helps plan change. Where required other domain specialists are called in to advise on the change. The facilitator is not the expert and assists the group in identifying the need for change.
The Facilitator helps plan the change in a manner that preserves the dignity of family members and allows people to feel well regarded thru the process of change. Doing it slowly and respectfully, in a step-by-step method often needing much intuition of unsaid unstated needs.
3)AGREE : To make the transitions the important thing is to make agreements while you are still in a healthy relationship in advances of crisis.
This is the most valuable management practice in the family business systems. The Facilitator helps identify the matters that need agreement on. Here too, where domain expertise is needed, domain experts are called.
The Facilitator helps hold the thread, and build the Family Constitution, which institutionalizes and enables the Family Business Unit to change the warfare from their internal board rooms/homes to the market place.
4) CONFIDANT : The Facilitator is an excellent resource for the simple act of release by the owner-member having someone s/he can speak to – who will listen and understand non-judgmentally, whilst at the same time providing the resource of being a ‘sensible sound board’
My role is also to hear the angst. Hear the idea. Hear the pain. Hear the joy. Listen to the confusion. Listen to the doubts. Understand, the human being for who he or she is.