In my last post, we reviewed family business transition through the lens of our brain’s primary operating principles (status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness). Now let’s explore what we could do differently in a family business transition process to minimize the threat response and maximize our ability to respond effectively to change.
To recap, our brains are wired to look for threats rather than rewards. Transitions in family firms trigger our brain’s threat response system. During transition we tend to focus more heavily on dealing with any perceived threat until that threat is resolved. Our decision making abilities, our performance and productivity invariably suffer as a result – causing maximum disruption in a time when thoughtful planning and measured response is required.
Our goal during transition should be to shift the sense of threat from an unconscious to a conscious level so that we can make better choices around how to respond. To do that, family business leaders must mitigate the threat by eliminating it or generating a reward to compensate for it.
Here are some thoughts on how to mitigate threats and trigger a reward response during transitions in family firms: