Family Business: The Lost Art of Good Chairing

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Synopsis

Organizing family business and business family meetings is important. That said, there is little point in doing that if the meetings are not effective. That makes understanding the nuances of chairing a meeting particularly important in circumstances where family meetings can be far more “emotion charged”, less productive and more disruptive than they ought to be.

Based in Christchurch, New Zealand Kan and Company offers management advisory services aimed at organic business growth and business growth through acquisition. It just published an article titled The lost art of good chairing: 16 ways to do it better. I asked for and received permission to reproduce the article in this newsletter.

Reproducing an article is not something I have previously done. I suggest all business owners and their advisors read it. It will take less than 4 minutes. Chances are readers will get ideas from this article that could pay major dividends.

Article: The lost art of good chairing: 16 ways to do it better – Kan and Company

Whether its a board meeting, a team meeting or a bible study group, a good chair is going to make a lot of difference as to whether the group will be effective.

But chairing is becoming a lost art.  Too often a chair is there because they are the alpha personality.

Too often such meetings are really an opportunity for the chair to do all the talking, identifying the issues, generating the solutions and then dealing out the tasks.

I’ve even seen Chairs disrespect team members behind their backs because they were so quiet, not realising that their own strong personalities were quashing participation.

Safety, discussion, participation and collaboration is not intentionally nurtured.

I believe the purpose of a Chair is to get the best out of the team around the table; that doesn’t matter whether the team members are company directors, employees or volunteers.

People won’t speak up if they don’t feel safe.  A significant role of the Chair is to therefore create a safe environment.

A Chair can make a safe environment by:

  1. Not allowing multiple conversations to continue at once.
  2. Not allowing one person to “hog” the floor.
  3. Setting ground rules at the beginning.
  4. Stopping the meeting whenever someone shows disrespect
  5. Watching for the quiet members and asking them for their opinions
  6. Respecting their response even if it is to say they need more time to think
  7. Setting ground rules can mean letting people know that
  • The meetings are not for people to show off how clever they are
  • That though members might have more than one idea, they present one idea and then pass the conversation on to someone else; they can present their second idea after it becomes clear no one else has something to add
  • Showing respect for other ideas by acknowledging the truth of a point before pointing out its weaknesses
  • Keeping their comments positive, clear and short
  1. Complimenting someone whenever they are showing the right behaviour:  showing respect, acknowledging someone else’s idea, presenting ideas clearly and succinctly
  2. Ensure that the right people are at the meeting
  3. Trusting the process
  4. Ensure there is an agenda and that everyone has had time to consider the issues listed
  5. Minimizing the chance for distraction, no phones, no internet surfing on tablets
  6. Encouraging people and yourself to trust that the process will bring out the best answers

An organisation done right can be more than the sum of its individuals.

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Ian R. Campbell FCPA FCBV

Ian R. Campbell is a Canadian business valuation and transition expert. He is the author of several Business Valuation texts and of 50 Hurdles: Business Transition Simplified. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators recognizes his contribution to the Canadian Business Valuation Profession through the annual The Ian R. Campbell Research Initiative.

He writes The Business Transition and Valuation Review newsletter for business owners and their advisors.

You can reach him by email at icampbell@ircpost.com, or by telephone at 905 274 0610.