THE ROLE OF FAMILY VALUES IN UNITING FAMILY AND BUSINESS

Bernie Kliska

According to John Ward, Professor of Family Enterprises at Northwestern University”The best tool in the family business kit is, without a doubt, its values, which shape the culture of the family and their business”. What distinguishes one family business from another are size, location, success in it’s niche, service and products. But there is a secret ingredient that acts as the glue to keep a company’s survival and the ability to pass the business proudly from generation to generation. The values and beliefs  of the family are clearly articulated to employees, suppliers and customers.

The family and business values can be a powerful marketing tool. SCJohnson Company, a five billion dollar family company always ends it’s media message with, “We are a Family Company”. Fisk Johnson, SCJohnson president stated:

“We call our values family values. They are not radically different from the values you  hear from major Fortune 500 companies, but I think we are better able to practice those values as family-owned company. People care about making quality products, really care about the family, each other and the success of the company, I believe our family caring values translate into the success of the company”.

Values play a special role in uniting family and business. When the goals of the family and the business diverge, as they invariably do at some point, shared values can LEND a sense of mission and purpose that transcends those conflicts. When values in the business and family reinforce each other, powerful synergies can arise that strengthen peoples’ performance in both realms. An excellent resource for this subject is a book by Craig Aronoff and John Ward, Values: How to Assure a Legacy of Continuity and Success.  

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