Managing Disagreements: Do You Have A Policy?

Kent Rhodes

One of our good collaborating friends with FBCG is a marvelous woman named Joline Godfrey whose company is called Independent Means (independentmeans.com). She is top in her field in educating families around wealth management, particularly as it relates to younger generations. She is also famous for saying, “Almost all families have the best of intentions, but few families are intentional”. I find myself quoting Jolene a lot, but usually in the context of how families tend to manage (or mismanage) conflicts or disagreements.

For good or ill, most families have developed specific pathways of engaging or ignoring difficulties and in families that also own and/or operate businesses, these pathways can have major impacts on the companies themselves. One family might thrive on open arguments about how the business should be run while others maintain a veneer of peace and unity while problems are ignored until they become a crises. I find that families who expend energy to intentionally and specifically agree to specific processes and policies for managing disagreements, are ones that also tend to better protect the business from potential family splits and bring a stronger sense of continuity to the family that can be handed down to future generations.

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