Family meetings differ from other business or advisory meetings, and therefore require extra attention to ensure they run smoothly. Here are some guidelines from David Lansky for maximizing the success of the next family meeting you organize:
Never have a family meeting if you don’t know what the outcome will be. Of course, this is a little tongue in cheek, because you can never know what the future actually holds, but you should do everything you can to guard against surprises. For me, this means conducting individual meetings with all key parties prior to the group meeting to determine their agendas, key issues, and possible underlying emotions or conflicts.
Be clear about the purpose of the meeting. Take some time to think about the end that you would like to see accomplished. Ask yourself: “If the meeting accomplished everything you could possibly hope for, what would that look like?”
Don’t look at your first meeting as having to accomplish all possible goals. Family meetings usually constitute a step in an ongoing process, so set small attainable goals for your first meeting, and meet again in order to pursue other goals.
David Lansky, PhD
Family Business Innovations
Highland Park, Ill.