COVID-19 has put many businesses under pressure to make tough decisions. That’s when conflicts can happen and the best option can be missed. When people come together, and where the decisions carry consequence, there will always be the possibility for disagreement. If the enterprise is a family business, these disagreements can prove even more heated.
“Managed well, disagreement needn’t be obstructive. With open communication and the right processes in place, a difference of opinion can be turned into a shared opportunity.” Tom McGinness, Global Leader Family Business, KPMG Private Enterprise.
Fortunately, experience tells us there’s a reliable, two-pronged approach to managing conflicts: improving communication and establishing structure.
When it comes to communication, it’s wise to start small. When I’m brought into a family’s conversation to help mediate, the first complaint I usually hear is “Why wasn’t I told?” or “When was I going to be consulted?” Ironing out any kinks in communication means holding regular, formal updates. The board can share news with all members at the same time, dispelling mild disgruntlement before it has the chance to do damage. In short, it’s good to get things out in the open and discuss them.
When you put in place clear, structured governance, disagreements can be held in a spirit of mutual support rather than becoming the catalyst of a family feud. Governance helps to temper heightened emotions and reframes personal resentments as mutual turning points.