This past weekend I had a new job –CBO (“Chief Babysitting Officer”) for our two little granddaughters. After raising two boys, I was thinking I would have to switch gears to make sure I had some activities planned that would appeal to little girls. How did I do? Well – some things I thought they would enjoy were a hit, like my old dollhouse that I drug out of the attic and then a few sticker crafts.
But they surprised me too.
They were much more interested in playing outside, riding tricycles, checking out the chickens, sitting on the tractor. And the books I thought they’d love (kittens and sweet things) were the least favorite. They wanted the books about driving trucks, everyday activities like bath-time and finding the hidden pictures. Well – it all worked out and we had a great time. But I learned I had to be flexible and not stick with my preconceived ideas about who they are and what they wanted to do.
By spending time together and talking and listening to each other, we found many different ways to have fun together and enjoy each other’s company.
So how does this relate to family businesses?
Isn’t it the same? We all have preconceived ideas about how the next-gen should be preparing to take over the business as well as preconceived ideas about how they should actually run the business. But they have their own ideas.
How do we learn what their ideas are? By spending time with each other on a regular basis – both in and outside of the business and by actually listening to each other. And then being honest enough to evaluate everyone’s thoughts, ideas and concerns and coming up with the best plan for both the business and the family.
True success for a business family means both success in the business and success in the family.