Archive for April, 2012

Stop Competing! (Against Your Siblings)

One of the most counterproductive behaviors I see in family businesses is siblings still trying to compete with each other as adults in the business. They are trying to resolve the challenges they had as little kids in the station wagon on family vacations. Little brother is trying to prove he’s smarter and faster than big brother. Little sister is trying to prove she is as tough as the boys. It’s hilarious! Most of us played sports and board games as children and got the competition mindset at an early age.

We when become adults in the family business the competition can be destructive. The focus and effort should be on beating the competitor, not each other! Great business families learn to discover and capitalize on everyone’s own unique talents. Some folks make great accountants and others great salespeople. Some are better leaders than managers. The best practice is to put people in the position that will best serve the company and play to their individual strengths. If you want to compete, get the monopoly board out, or go hit the tennis court. In business you need to learn to collaborate to beat your competitor.

Please enjoy this short 3 minute video and make a commitment to STOP COMPETING WITH YOUR SIBLINGS TODAY!

Waiting Room Hell – Family Business Succession

One of the most common frustrations in a family business can be the question of succession. When will it happen? How will the decision be made?

For next generation leaders it can be like being stuck in the waiting room from hell. No sign of when something is going to occur and in the meantime, you have this uneasiness that you might be wasting your time or fooling yourself that it is going to ever happen. In my case, at my 90 year old family business, I wasn’t sure either – is going to happen when my uncle is 75 and I am 55? I couldn’t see sitting in the waiting room for another 15 years.

Here’s a short 2 minute video:

I’d encourage those in the waiting room to watch. It includes the important 5 questions you need to ask your leader – the answers may help you decide how long you are willing to wait.

Good luck and keep getting stronger even if you have a long wait!

Coach Pete

Breakdown Breakthrough

Every breakdown is a great opportunity for coaching and for a breakthrough.  Coaching leaders see it that way.  So certainly, every time there is a breakdown there is an opportunity for coaching.  Remember, “time and place.”  Pick the right time and right place to coach around the breakdown.  As an old saying goes, “In your greatest challenges, come your greatest opportunities.” Always see breakdowns as an opportunity for coaching and a breakthrough.

A breakthrough can be one of those “ah ha!” moments where you see the light bulb go on.  Your coachee is suddenly and permanently altered in a good way; they have a new perspective or a new way of relating to someone or something.

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

I can’t emphasize this enough!  Do not wait to start coaching until you think you know how to do it “just right.”  Trust the coaching process.  Your early attempts at coaching will surprise you in their effectiveness.  As successful business leaders your inclination will be to avoid being an unskilled novice.  Fight that inclination!  The only road to mastery is through the rocky roads of new skill building.  Every coaching interaction will be building your experience, competence and confidence.

Considering hiring a coach to “coach the coach.”  That’s me!  Set up structures within your company so that you can have others be a second set of eyes and ears for you regarding how your coaching conversations went.  Make some notes, practice being a detached observer, and you will get a sense of how you did in coaching.

In coaching school, we do three-way coaching.  So you could even have a colleague sit in while you are coaching, or you could have a peer or even a teammate give you feedback about your coaching.  The bottom line is, the only way you are going to become an effective coaching leader is to practice.

Set Up Structures

What I mean by structures are one-on-one and team meetings, and regularly set coaching sessions.  You could make it a part of your company’s culture to have an “after-action review” after significant events.  Those kinds of structures provide you and your team the opportunity to have coaching occur on a regular basis.  We will talk more about how practice makes perfect, but structures are agreed upon times, places and processes that allow you to regularly engage in coaching.

After the Fact

This is a very common form of coaching.  Professional athletes will review the game tape later and then identify what kinds of mistakes were made during the performance.  Musicians in an orchestra might listen to the performance after the fact and then identify some new techniques or practices that would improve their performance.  After the fact coaching is very popular and effective, but do not wait too long to do it!  There is something that some clients call an “after-action review.”  This is a great tool for coaching after a big project, presentation, or client event.  Pull your whole team together and do an after-action review.  In business, we so often are off to the next project and missing those learning opportunities.

In the Moment

This is obviously the best kind of coaching.  When we see this in the sports setting, we see a coach on the sideline saying something to the player right then and there because it is fresh in everyone’s mind.  In the moment coaching is great when it can be handled appropriately.  You do not want to be doing in the moment coaching with someone in front of their peers.  Most people do not like that.  In the moment could be when you are having a meeting with your direct report and they are stuck on an issue.  That is a great time to use the coaching process to solve the issue and identify some new practices.

Sometimes leaving the family business is the best answer

I see many family business participants struggling to find both personal and family peace. They get so enmeshed in their family history and dynamics all of which becomes almost like a straight jacket in which they cannot move or see new perspectives. One client recently made the tough decision  to call it quits and move on. I see that as a great step for him personally and his extended family.

Leaving the family business has been like taking off the straight-jacket. He is suddenly able to move about, breath more freely and get a sense of who he is without the family drama.

My hunch, as their family business coach is that this is the best thing that could have happen to this young man and the family. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him come back to the family business at some point. I know this much, he has already gained a greater sense of self worth and courage. He has found employment in a company he loves and is gaining invaluable experience. He is finding room in his heart to have a healthy relationship with his parents and I see a new smile in his eyes and heart.

If you want to get a deeper glimpse into my client’s situation here is a video interview. Please encourage fathers, mothers, sons and daughters to be open to the idea of venturing out – it can be one of the best things to ever happen.