Five Practical Practices to Defining Family Business Values -

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In my first blog on family business values, the focus was on how conflict may be minimized by leveraging values to clarify expectations and guide behaviour. So now that you recognize the value in identifying family values, where do you start?

Following are several practical suggestions which can be leveraged to build your family values.

It Starts with You

Start by thinking about your own values, reflecting on how and whether you are living in alignment with them. Initiate opportunities to discuss the concept of values and your values with other family members. Engage in these discussions with openness and a sense of curiosity, taking the time to really listen to what is being shared. Doing so may enhance relationships by demonstrating empathy and understanding.

The Process is Just as Important as the Outcome

Building values is not just about a “check in the box” exercise to create a set of words. To be successful, requires an inclusive, transparent process. Do not start this process unless a strong, shared desire to expend the effort to align understanding and behaviours and hold each other accountable exists. Actions need to be consistently aligned with values, as a mismatch between values and actions can lead to reduced trust, disappointment and disengagement.

Go Slow to Go Fast

Everyone will have a different view of what family values mean and, as such, building consensus around a set of values will take time if done right. There needs to be a lot of discussion, listening and negotiating to gain consensus not only on the family values themselves – but also on how the values will be reflected in day to day planning, decisions and actions. The process of developing values should not be rushed but used as an opportunity for family members learn to listen, understand different perspectives and learn how to work together effectivel. Many multigenerational families are often pleasantly surprised at how many values they share.

Use Storytelling to Bring Values to Life

The most successful family businesses work hard to communicate their values throughout the family business system by sharing its history using stories. Storytelling – can be a powerful tool in creating a strong family and business culture by making values real. Actions that consistently reflect values, especially challenging actions become the basis for powerful stories that are easy to remember and re-tell, clarifying expectations for family members and employees.

Define and Measure Success

To support behaviour change to be aligned with values, it is important to clearly articulated a set of success measures. In the family business context, stewardship is an important concept to consider as it encourages a long-term mindset to future generations. Measures of stewardship look at the impact that the family is having on the responsible management of themselves and the health of the family and business. Examples include, succession plans, skills development (leadership, collaboration, decision-making, conflict resolution) and how effectively they are living their identified values.

In Summary

Values are important and are passed on through every decision, action and interaction. Look for opportunities to embed family values as part of your day-to-day life and develop purposeful processes to share them across generations. The time and effort will be worth the result.

If you are interested in speaking with a Family Business Advisor to learn more about how they may be able to help you, give us a call at (613) 656-3499 or contact us at More information can also be found on our Family Business Advisor page.

In addition to offering support in Finance, HR, Recruitment and Strategy and Governance, BSG also now offers Family Advisory and Coaching support.