Family Business 101 #4
The 7 Team Values: A Team is a Team When:

  • In a Family Business, it is Important to Trust Each Other’s Skills
  • Think of a Family in Business as a Team
  • 7 Qualities Dominate Team Formation

The family business performed inconsistently recently.  Two members had recently joined the enterprise and they were frustrated with the way the members interacted.  There was a lot of “triangulation” going on.  The CEO would speak to different members about the performance of a third one hoping that they would pass on the message.  There were often “meetings before/after the meeting” in small groups that didn’t include everyone.  Instead of respecting the hierarchy, members would often go around someone rather than having the important conversations needed to resolve issues.

The members knew that they were not working as well together as they could.  They called on a consultant to come in and help them resolve the issue.  The consultant told them that the answer, while not necessarily easy, was simple.  They needed to think of the family members within the enterprise as a team.  This is what the consultant shared with them.

A team is not a team until:

Trust We Do What We Declare We Intend to Do – One of the first steps in creating trust is to engage in the vulnerability of committing to one another what each intends to do.  When family members fulfill their commitments, it creates the opportunity for trust to flourish, a must for high performing teams.

Trust in Goodwill – The Sales Team was frustrated that some of their opportunities were being turned down because of capacity constraints.  In their planning meeting, salespeople complained that, “If it weren’t for the Head of Production (a family member), we could achieve our goals.”  Depending on how the Head of Sales (also a family member) responds, team solidarity is either reinforced or diminished.  For teams to perform well, each member must have confidence that, in addition to executing tasks for the good of the enterprise, they are also interacting for the good of one another.

Trust in Willingness to Learn from Each Other – Tom Izzo is the Head Basketball Coach for the Michigan State Spartans.  He believes that the best team is a “player-coached” team.  That means that the team members themselves must help each other to get better, to learn and grow.  Family members need to be willing to hear from other members about their views and find a way to incorporate that feedback into improved performance.  This requires a level of humility that members must work tirelessly to develop.

Trust We Share in Values – Many organizations tout their values internally and to customers.  In his work with teams, Patrick Lencioni talks about the risks and vulnerability associated with enunciating values.  Doing so exposes the leadership to judgement from employees and customers especially if those values are not strictly followed.  Within a team environment, alignment on values is critical.  If family members deviate from agreed upon values, it sows the seeds of discord within the team and leads to disengagement by the organization’s members.  When family members support one another through their adherence to values, it lays the foundation for continuity of decision-making and enables a longer-term view for the enterprise.

Trust in Keeping Confidences – This is fundamental.  Family members must be able to share information within this “team” environment to meaningfully transfer information that needs to be closely held.  This may also mean keeping confidences that are not brought up at the team level.  This helps avoid “triangulation” where one member may attempt to empower another to send a message to a third person when the first member should deliver that message.  The act of sharing it with the second person in an attempt to avoid conflict can result in a diminution of trust among the team.

Trust to Air Concerns – In many organizations, information that flows upward is often muted, possibly by the way information was handled previously. Within family businesses, employees may add an additional filter, editing their communication to family members.  Within the family, past experiences, including those outside of the scope of the business, may further hinder transparent exchanges.  This activity deprives members of the clarity needed to operate with confidence and decisiveness.  Risk can be mitigated when it is known; lack of clarity creates doubt and indecision, which can be deadly.  Family businesses must create a level of psychological safety so that people, especially family members, have the confidence to air issues and concerns.

Trust We Are Fair With and Tough On Each Other – By following the approach of a “Player Coached Team” and Trusting in Goodwill, teams must not tolerate work that is “Not Good for the Team.”  Consequently, family members need to approach their work together using this perspective.  It naturally leads to fairness and high standards, qualities that are essential in creating a dynamic culture that will ensure performance and outcomes.

Every team needs these seven qualities to be able to perform well.  Family “teams” are no exception.  How will you know if your team has these issues covered?  Try this simple test: Ask everyone on your team to rate the members on each quality on a scale from one to three.  3 means “Everyone”; 2 means “Almost Everyone”, and; 1 means “Very Few”.  When your entire team rates each quality as a “3”, you know that you have a high functioning team!  When you seek help in reaching 3’s, Level Three can help.  Call us.

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Ready, Mindset, Grow!: Nuggets Mined from the Leadership Journeys

Business leadership books abound today. What makes this one worth the read? Actionable insights! Ready, Mindset, Grow, delivers to today’s leaders entertaining stories of the transformative power of culture. Backed by solid research, these brief tales, and the lessons they convey, can be put into practice for short-term wins and long-term growth. Entertaining and insightful, the author has filled the pages with cultural nuggets and jewels from his 30+ years of experience in leadership coaching and consulting. Smart leaders will appreciate the candor, catch glimpses into their own circumstances and gain the conviction needed to accomplish positive cultural change.


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