09/11/2016 - 05:30

Agility, values vital for family business

09/11/2016 - 05:30

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

By its very nature, family business has a hybrid identity. And while sometimes this doesn’t work out well, most of the time it does, with 70 per cent of businesses in Australia identifying as part of the grouping.

Employees, suppliers and customers become part of ‘the family’ in well-run family businesses. Photo: Attila Csaszar

By its very nature, family business has a hybrid identity. And while sometimes this doesn’t work out well, most of the time it does, with 70 per cent of businesses in Australia identifying as part of the grouping.

Like any other business in a challenging economic environment, family businesses need to be agile –not just in an operational sense, but emotionally as well.

Emotional agility is about developing positive management, which includes being optimistic and confident about the future and building resilience, but importantly, developing grit or a determination to wade through the challenges.

Some ideas that emerge from the family business research my colleagues and I undertake include the following.

• Develop positive management by linking up with others to share ideas in order to consider, think and develop new ways of doing old things. You can find this in a managerial round table (Family Business Australia and others run these).

• Continue the personal development journey by investing in training for you, the family and your employees. Innovation often comes from having the time and structure to think through ideas carefully, but in a facilitated way. There are many programs around, both family and non-family focused.

To get a good idea you have to be exposed to other ideas – training is a way to get this. But we have found that what works best for family business is training that uses a ‘conversational approach’; that is, helps you to learn from others. This has proved to be extremely effective as a way of transferring knowledge.

• Look after the ‘tribe’. We all know that the tribe in family business is not just the family, it is also the so-called non family – the employees, the suppliers, the customers – who become ‘the family’. They are crucial to business success, especially during times of change. Looking after them is highly significant in helping your business weather the storms.

Family business is a proud community. Many call their business after their family name and it is pride and often ‘looking after the legacy’ that keeps family business going during the turbulent times.  However, without family business, not only would our economy –as too many other economies – around the world have a gap in their economy, they would also have a gap in the moral fabric that keeps a society together. Therefore, the final tip:

• Maintain the values. Family business has a unique set of values that include responsibility not just for the family, but the tribe or community. This gives family business a purpose to keep growing and to remain sustainable. It is a purpose that has unique foundations because it links back to the family in the business system. Thus, while this creates challenges in everyday business operations, at the same time during difficult times this purpose is what keeps family business going.

 

• Dr Donella Caspersz is a lecturer in management and organisations at the UWA Business School.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options