Family Communication in Business- by Marla J Noel


Family communication in business can be challenging. Things are said that should not be said, or things that should be said are not. Whether the communication is within the same generation or different generations, it can always be challenging. This is why family meetings are critical to the long-term health of a family business.

Within the same generation the things that negatively affect communication include egos, emotions, fear or distrust. If left to develop without work on improving communication, these negative influencers can be blown out of proportion, and negatively affect the business. When there is ego, as a challenge, it may be one party or all parties. When you hold a family meeting, a facilitator can assist in identifying when ego issues are coming into play and attempt to mitigate. The same holds true when the other factors are affecting communication.

Outside of the same generation, issues relating to terms used to communicate become a source of misunderstanding. Again, a facilitator can assist in clarifying meaning to what is said and sometimes, what is not said. Because family communication in business is a challenge, businesses should work to improve communication by having regular meetings, at least once a year, with follow up action plans.

The more challenging the issues, the more regular the meetings should be, once a month or once a quarter. The facilitator should be someone trained to understand the emotional aspects of the underlying issues. There are many types of business coaches, some of whom can facilitate a family meeting and some who should not. I would not facilitate a family meeting, but can certainly recommend some great coaches, who can understand and work with family dynamics that fall outside of regular business issues.

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