Business Meetings In A Family Business

Family meetings should still get down to business.

First stages. If a family is just initiating familymeetings, agenda items dealing with how the meetings will beconducted are especially useful. Be sure to discuss thefollowing:

1. Who will participate in discussions? Spouses?Ex-spouses? Children older than 15? Family members in the businessbut without ownership interests?

2. What are the ground rules for the discussions? Whathappens when someone gets abusive or otherwise out of line? Whatagreements should be made about confidentiality?

3. Who will facilitate the meetings? Do you need anoutside facilitator? Is someone within the family skilled enoughfor this role? Should you rotate facilitators for each meeting?Should you have co-facilitators? Will the facilitator or the groupset the agenda?

4. What expenses of the family meeting will be paid for bythe business? Golf fees? Personal items purchased? Travelexpenses? Expenses attributed to a significant other?

Later on. Issues that involve both family and businessabound, so there shouldn't be a shortage of topics to discuss.The business's financial information will probably always be onthe agenda, as will an updated report of industry trends. It'salso important to re-evaluate whether members fully understand thebusiness's mission and are living by the family's values.Beyond that, any of the following topics could be discussed andthen acted on:

  • a family employment policy
  • issues surrounding succession
  • a family compensation policy
  • how to mentor the next generation
  • prenuptial agreements for family members
  • what to do if one family member winds up in a position ofextreme financial crisis
  • how to handle substance abuse among family members

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