In my experience of working with family businesses from coast-to-coast for over 10 years, I found personality and style differences to be one of the leading causes of family business conflict and dysfunction. With a little bit of education and awareness the style differences can become an asset rather than a liability.
The fact that everyone has a different style of working is a reality in every family. You can either fight those style differences or you can learn to work with them to make your team stronger and more effective.
Some of the most common mistakes families make can be avoided by:
- Getting people in roles that match their personality styles
i.e. put outgoing, gregarious people in sales positions and put methodical detail oriented people in finance and accounting roles. It sounds simple but surprisingly many families have people mismatched in their roles.
- Take a personality assessment and identify everyone’s inherent styles.
There are many assessments that have been around for years like Myers-Briggs but I prefer a simple and easily translatable assessment by Laurie Beth Jones called Path Elements profile. The profile easily identifies Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire as the four basic personality types. Once a family can start to recognize each of their personality types they can start causing less damage and destruction within the team.
You can get the Path Element profile here for $29.
Once you identify each other’s styles then you need to learn to speak in each other’s native language. Outgoing people love passion and excitement as opposed to detail oriented people who appreciate the thoroughness of a well thought out plan.
Here’s a short and funny video I made that has me playing out each of the personalities types that were around in our family business.
Ultimately the goal of the family should be to learn to truly appreciate each other’s styles. When a family can really appreciate people’s styles and strengths they can begin to get the most out of their team and enjoy the family business experience.