Are family business meetings necessary?
I hate family business meetings. One person takes over while others sit in silence because they know what they say doesn’t matter. Others agree to an action but never follow through. Basically it’s a waste of time. So, I’m wondering, why do we have to meet? We see each other every day. - Submitted by email from A.R.
You’ve just described a common complaint about family business meetings. Yet, when goodwill, productivity, profitability, and peace of mind are needed, nothing beats communication through intentional meetings. Meetings are held for distinct purposes.
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Here are three types of necessary meetings to address labor, management/leadership, and ownership concerns:
1. Morning Huddle
This happens in a very short time frame. All members of the active team check in, either in person or electronically (set a recurring Zoom link with access via phone). The busier you are, the more this meeting is needed.
It’s often held first thing in the morning with the intent to review daily tasks, expectations, and priorities. A manager of the day’s work is the quarterback, making sure all contribute.
Typical agenda: what are we doing today; who’s doing what; where will you be; do you need others to work with you; do you have the resources (equipment, supplies, etc.) needed; thank you; let’s get to work.
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2. Monthly Management Meeting
The purpose is to add productivity and profitability, explore options, solve problems, and foster goodwill among the team. Key players who affect the management/leadership of the business attend. It may include others by invitation such as employees, specialized advisers, etc.
Dedicate a time each month; for example, 10 a.m. on the first Thursday. Flexibility is needed at peak times. Keep meetings under an hour, and call a special meeting when a focused discussion or action is needed.
Set an agenda before the meeting. To do this, post a laminated sheet in an easily accessible spot that lists your business areas. Allow space to write the topics/needs to be discussed. Nothing listed? Don’t meet. When you do meet, you can discuss only the items listed on the agenda. If other topics come up, put them in the “parking lot” for the next meeting.
Rotate who leads each meeting, and listen to learn. Those closest to the work (task) know what is needed and have ideas for solutions. Assign action and accountability feedback.
3. Owner Meeting
This category includes all required meetings of your structure (corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.). Your structure documents will include the requirements, such as who is invited, how all are to be notified, and items that must be on the agenda.
The meeting may be an annual general meeting, a board of directors meeting, or a special topic meeting that requires owner direction and decision. These meetings need to be long enough to stay in compliance; complete the requirements; keep current on the vision; identify key players; and review documents, finances, and the transition plan. This list is just the basics, but I’ve learned to reframe the mind-set of why we gather from “we have to meet” to “we save time because we meet.”
Meetings set the tone for all to be on the same page — working toward the same goals and reaffirming goodwill among team members.
Jolene Brown, CSP, CPAE, is a professional speaker, author, farmer, and family business consultant. She shares her passion, experience, and fun-filled spirit with farmers and ranchers across North America. Her tested business tools provide leadership and management solutions for the people who feed, clothe, and fuel the world. jolenebrown.com.