Family Business Series Part 3: Communication at the Business Level
By: Deborah Gantos
In the past two issues, we have discussed the three levels of communication and how deeply they affect the interactions, progress and even success or failure of a business.
In part 1, we examined the individual’s role in helping or sabotaging relationships on a personal level by the way the individual communicates in words and nonverbal behaviors.
In part 2, the intricacies of family roles and interpersonal dynamics provided some very important information on ways to understand, cope and repair dysfunctional behaviors and broken dialogues.
In this article, we will examine these dynamics on the business, or organizational level.
It all boils down to COMMUNICATION. Are you starting to get the theme of these articles?
Family members ought to communicate on a business level with the same professionalism that should be expected in any business.
The first step in the process is meeting regularly to exchange face-to-face dialogue, brainstorming, problem solving and any other important items.
Developing an agenda is an absolute necessity. The agenda sample below is a good example of what you will need for your next meeting:
It should start with reviewing the agenda from the last meeting, then discussing previously assigned tasks from it. If a task was not done, the person needs to explain why. This is very helpful in discovering breakdowns in processes, or identifying confusion concerning who is supposed to be doing what. Addressing the person who did not do the work MUST NOT be done in an accusatory, demeaning way. This just breeds revenge and negative reactions. Ask them for solutions to resolve the issue so it WILL be done next time. Be sure to modulate your tone of voice to be conciliatory. For example, say something like: “Hey John, seems like this one got overlooked? What are your ideas on getting this done on time next time?”
If you sense some hostility in John’s answer, hold a private discussion and gently, but firmly ask him to comply. Make sure he knows there will be a consequence, and let him know what it will be. I believe in giving someone a break the first time it happens; however, continually ignoring work tasks should equal a write-up.
This concludes part 3 of communication and family business with all its nuances and complications.
In the next issue we will talk about: “The Horrors of the Written Word!”