Communication A Challenge At the Heart 

Having recently completed another year of research and our annual survey into the challenges that family businesses face – not just now but into the future – we again seeing the ever present issue of communication. In fact the challenges around communication seem to be increasing. So why is that and what can be done?

We now have increasing generation gaps with the average age to be a first time parent increasing to 30 years old,  a 10 year increase. This in itself can mean that the world each generation enters is different by 30 years. The view each generation holds about how we communicate changes – just look at the way the current generation use technology and send a message within seconds and in just 140 characters.

With the average age of a family business CEO being 60 you can see that they might not necessary share the same view of communication. Add to this an increase in the number of blended family members working together through second marriages, step children, adoption and so on – again putting a few potential elephants in the room.

55% of those in and around family businesses would rather stay silent than possibly upset their kin. Poor communication isn’t always because of a fall out – but rather to avoid one. 21% of family business leaders (particularly the founding generation) will make decisions without discussion or consultation. 74% admit to communication being strained. Silence allows interpretation, assumptions and guesswork to creep in – and that hardly ever ends well.

We also have to understand that we all have a preferential style of communication – some of us are thinkers, some are more factual and others emotional. Because of both the complexity and importance of communication within family and owner managed enterprises, and knowing the risks presented by poor communication, we have partnered with the Shirlaws Group to offer readers of our 2015-2016 Annual Guide access to a complimentary online indicator to explore your own style – and that of your family and board members.

By looking at the team as a whole you can begin to develop and adapt approaches for far greater impact.

View our annual guides within resources