Family Businesses are unique with their own set of opportunities and challenges. Here personal relationships and family dynamics intertwine professional roles and responsibilities. The play of emotions -both pleasant and unpleasant, is high and can be complicated. An effective tool to navigate this intricate landscape is Coaching. This powerful process can address holistically the multifaceted challenges and opportunities inherent in family-owned businesses, paving the way for a more peaceful and sustainable future, where both the business and the family can thrive. Coaching in family business is not only about enhancing individual skills and leadership qualities but also about nurturing the cohesion, productivity, professionalism, and longevity of the business itself. In this sense, it is a dynamic and transformative approach. In specific terms, the significance of Coaching in family business is elaborated below.
Personal Growth & Development:
Family business coaching can lead to personal growth and self-awareness, benefiting both the business and the individuals involved. It is a supportive process that can enhance individual effectiveness and balance in various life domains, promoting overall fulfillment. Good coaches can help identify and address self-limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors. Their constructive feedback and support help individuals adapt and improve themselves on their personal growth journey.
Professional Development: Coaching acts as a catalyst for improving the professional skills and capabilities of the family members involved in the business, by providing them with the required guidance and support. They help upskill family members, improving their ability to contribute effectively to the business. The specific focus and approach may vary depending on the needs and objectives of the individuals and/or the business. The result is an empowered professional who feels in control of his business.
Coaching can strengthen relationships among family members, which is crucial for a harmonious and productive family business. Effective communication, active listening, self-awareness, helping individuals understand their own emotions, encouraging empathy, establishing healthy boundaries to maintain respect and balance in relationships, providing constructive feedback are some of the areas that coaches can work on to enhance bonding among family members, whether they are part of the first or subsequent generations.
Objective Decision Making:
The Coach, being a neutral entity, offers an impartial perspective, helping family members make objective decisions and avoid emotional biases. He/she encourages data driven and informed decision-making. He/she also uses techniques to manage feelings like anxiety or fear that can cloud judgment, helping in rational decision making leading to more effective and acceptable outcomes. A third-party perspective stimulates the thought process helping to arrive at win-win solutions wherever possible.
Conflicts are inevitable in any business. The family business is no exception. In fact, here the conflicts can be emotionally charged resulting in more complications. Coaching helps family members address conflicts constructively by using various techniques. Developing empathy for others’ perspectives can help address and resolve conflicts that often arise in family businesses. Negotiation, mediation, conciliation etc are some of the methods that trained coaches use to resolve conflicts effectively. Therefore, they facilitate a faster and a more rational approach to resolving issues. The result is more harmonious work relationships leading to more productivity.
By virtue of their very nature, family enterprises could be found wanting as far as role clarities are concerned. Coaches help define those lines more clearly. They set clear expectations and hold family members accountable for their roles and responsibilities within the business. This reduces ambiguity and uncertainty thereby promoting clarity. Coaches also help establish accountability structures, such as regular meetings and reporting mechanisms to track progress and address issues in time before they escalate and blow out of proportion.
Most family businesses struggle with this aspect of ensuring a smooth transition and the continuity of the business. Coaches help prepare the next generation for leadership roles, they start by identifying members with the potential, the right skills, competencies and above all the values to align with the organizational goals. Then comes the drill down to create Individual development plans for each potential successor, develop training programs, provide on- the -job opportunities to take on leadership opportunities in a phased or controlled manner, continuously providing timely feedback for making improvements & corrections. Though a long process, it results in a confident and able future -ready generation fully equipped to step into the shoes of the seniors.
Coaches assist in developing and providing guidance for executing strategic plans, ensuring the long-term growth and sustainability of the business. They help create clear roadmaps which set the direction. This may change depending on multiple factors-both internal and external. Covid is a classic example of how businesses were shaken and had to seek new ways of operating. Coaches can help in this journey by fostering confidence, encouraging out of the box solutions, and imparting a sense of control to those involved. It’s not only about the owners but also about the impact of such changes on the employees that needs to be thought through.
These are some of the value -adds that family enterprises can gain through coaching. However, the coaching journey is by no means a bed of roses. It could be time and resource intensive, can take several months or years and hence turn out to be expensive. Ideas from coaches may conflict with the family’s ideas or vision. It may be difficult to hear/agree to alternate viewpoints that the family doesn’t immediately see the benefits of. A rigid business structure may not be accommodative of coaching or other such interventions.
In conclusion, Coaching in Family Business provides impactful insights, third-party perspectives and exploration into avenues hitherto not considered. It can serve as a vital catalyst for the harmony, growth, and continuity of these unique enterprises. It recognizes that success in family businesses goes beyond financial achievements; it encompasses personal development and the preservation of familial bonds. The journey of coaching in family business is an ever-evolving process. And the Coach can be the pivot that catapults the organization to the next level.
Ms. Sheela Warrier
Consultant – Organizational Performance