Spring Cleaning- Parting with Treasures

Jennifer Pendergast
Jennifer Pendergast

Spring cleaning is a time to go through everything that has accumulated during the year (or years, depending upon how often you go through the ritual!) and determine what is still relevant to your life.  This ritual can serve as an analogy for the important process of evaluating people that support your family business –  board members, advisors, service providers – to ensure they are still the people you need to achieve your goals.  Family business owners are often challenged by the prospect of replacing someone who has been invaluable to the business over the years but who may be ready personally to move on or who is no longer a good fit.  Often these individuals stay on longer than the family or they would like because no one is willing to broach the subject.  Recently I watched a client deal with the retirement of a long-time board member in a courageous and honorable way.  The family members on the board informed this gentleman, a board member with well over a decade of service, that they felt it was time to refresh the board.  They asked him how he would like to handle the announcement to the board – Would he like to retire or resign? Would he like to tell the board or would he like them to tell the board?  Then they planned a dinner honoring his service. They worked with his wife to identify a gift that would be special – in this case tickets to a sporting event and an opportunity to meet the owner of the team.  All of these steps showed respect for the director’s contribution and allowed the process to unfold in a way that made him comfortable.  The result – the board members and family involved felt good about the decision.

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