When it comes to business transfers, setting up a family council can be a winning strategy for ensuring the sustainability of a business.
Over the next few years, many Quebec businesses will be transferred to buyers from within the family circle.
In some cases, it’s also possible that external buyers will also be involved, but the fact remains the same: multigenerational management is an issue that family businesses must face.
Starting an entrepreneurial succession process is a long and complex project. In the context of a family succession, the stakes, emotions and feelings are put to the test. It’s like airing problems and issues that are usually private.
Preserving the harmony thanks to a family council
The family council is a key structure when the family grows and the family-business relationship becomes more complex. It provides an opportunity for family members to express themselves. However, setting up a family council is not automatic.
It’s important to understand the family history, ties and relationships between family members. When we undertake a business succession assignment, it’s essential to have a human approach and a proper grasp of all aspects involved.
This is even more true in a family succession context. It’s almost like interfering in people’s private and professional lives; some discussions will be easy, but others will be more difficult and painful. The complexity of the case will determine whether or not to involve a family council. In complex family succession cases, a family council can be very useful for all parties involved.
What is seen in most cases is that when the future management team, which includes external members and others from within the family circle, meets, some things may be left unsaid. And if they are not addressed, these unspoken things can be detrimental to the proper functioning of the management team. That’s where the family council may have a role to play.
When setting up the family council, it’s important to define a broad framework and structure that includes all family members. It’s also essential to identify a common goal. Achieving this goal requires active listening and honest participation by all.
The family council’s mission is to preserve family harmony while ensuring the business’s stability. To achieve this, everything depends on good communication between the participants.
The family council as a place of exchange
Our approach to the practice is very human; our desire is to satisfy everyone, and in order to achieve this, we must let everyone express themselves and hear them. We set up a family council in which we play the role of mediator. This council meets about twice a year and offers all family members the opportunity to share their opinions and resolve certain situations.
The family council is an ideal place to communicate, exchange and set policies and procedures concerning family members, such as hiring them in the organization.
Family council sessions are not family meetings; their purpose is to resolve situations and address concerns. In a family succession context, there is tension and disagreement. Our role is to guide these meetings, but to do so, all family members must be present.
Family councils are opportunities for everyone to express themselves and be heard. It’s not about interfering in family life, but rather it’s a window where everyone can speak and be heard.
What do the external buyers think?
This approach is very well received by external parties taking over, who encourage and respect this practice. It’s also in their interest to put all the chances on their side to ensure the sustainability of the business. Moreover, the family council is not a decision-making forum, so this does not bother external buyers who are in favour of such an action. Instead, it helps preserve harmony.
Preparing the next generation
The family council also helps to raise awareness and prepare the future generation that will take over the business. By valuing members, they act on the family’s behalf to preserve its heritage, which will have a positive impact on the company’s sustainability.
For more information, feel free to contact our team.
22 Jan 2020 | Written by :