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Resistance to advice with family business clients


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  • 1. The “Yes, but” Syndrome: Presented by: Dr. Wm. (Chip) Valutis Resistance to Advice: The Psychology behind why Business-Owners may (or may not) follow your council.
  • 2. Real Life Learning
    • Before we begin, take a minute to apply this to your client base:
      • Think of a business owner who you’ve had difficulty moving to action
      • Pick three things you believe contributed to the resistance
      • What have you done to break through this resistance?
    • Revisit these answers after the presentation.
  • 3. Owners of Closely-Held Businesses are Different. Why?
    • They live in multiple systems (family & business). As such:
    • they juggle different agendas & visions
    • There is not one common problem-solving criteria to use.
    • Secrecy, doubt and skepticism is common.
    • Things aren’t always what they appear to be
  • 4. Understanding a Systemic Perspective
    • Everything is connected
    • Each system has a set of roles, responsibilities, expectations, rules, boundaries and history
    • Systems can be closed or open
    Family Needs Business Needs Owner Needs
  • 5. Can you Empathize?
    • How are you different? Similar?
    • How is conflict handled (different/similar)?
    • How are decisions made and problems solved (different/similar)?
    • How are accountability and consequences delivered?
    • What roles or boundaries are adhered to?
    • What are the dynamics in each?
    • If you are like most, the dynamics, behaviors and roles are very different in your “work” life than they are in your “home” life. Imagine blending them together!
    Think of yourself at work and at home...
  • 6. Common Areas of Conflicting Agendas & Visions
    • Inter -generational differences
    • Intra -generational differences
    • Needs versus wants
    • Needs of the business versus needs of the family
  • 7. No Common Decision-Making Criteria
    • Because members have different goals in mind, the means by which they get there are often quite different
    • Tend to be more self-serving
    • Not an agreeable style or approach
    • Roles/authority are rarely equal
  • 8. Historical Perspective
    • The Forever Young syndrome
    • Long-term memories
    • If it worked yesterday, it is a proven technique
    • Can’t predict the future, so play to the past
  • 9. Secrecy
    • Never sure you have the whole story
    • Can protect each other at the expense of the business
    • Closed systems do not allow outsiders
    • “Magic bullets” and “pixie dust” — expect to be fixed without risk or vulnerability
  • 10. Things Are Rarely What They Appear To Be
    • Control/authority
    • Compensation
    • Ownership
    • Hiring/promotion
    • Retirement
    What you see/hear is often not what is really occurring: Issues of:
  • 11. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Address the symptoms and not the problem
    • Keeps you busy but not productive
    • Frequent changes in priorities or agenda
    • You’re working harder than they are
    1. Failure to Identify the Real Issue
  • 12. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Advisors are quick to “solve” a problem with expert advice
    • Many needs (fear, security, self-worth, love) can’t be addressed in an estate plan
    • If we control the contingencies, then we think we can control the concerns (e.g., locks on your door)
    • We don’t have expertise in emotional problems, so we avoid them
    2. Solving Emotional Problems with Logical Solutions
  • 13. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Trying to please different Masters
    • Conflicts of interest
    • When, where and to whom do you report/communicate
    • Lack of clear criteria for decision making
    • “Don’t forget who’s paying your invoice!”
    • “You’re Dad’s advisor, not mine!”
    3. Failure to Identify “Who Is the Client?”
  • 14. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Having your hands tied
    • Lots of talk but no communication
    • All the wrong people are hearing what is said
    • Enabling
    4. Triangles & Confidences
  • 15. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Owners will often fail to disclose all of the information you need to do your job
    • Unspeakables, undiscussables and skeletons in the closet
    • Potential for serious problems
    • Warning sign is when you begin to feel crazy
    5. Unspoken Rules, Norms & Dynamics
  • 16. “Hidden” Resistance
    • We listen for “just enough” information
    • We fail to hear what is not said
    • We miss early warning signs (verbal & nonverbal)
    • We listen for data, not dynamics
    6. Poor Listening
  • 17. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Danger of not meeting real needs
    • Pleasing one while displeasing another
    • Making sure client knows and accepts their role in the process
    7. Failure to Define & Clarify Expectations
  • 18. “Hidden” Resistance
    • Map out rules of engagement and acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior
    • Let client know what you can/can’t and will/won’t do
    • Set milestones for touch base and review progress
    8. Failure to Define & Clarify Expectations
  • 19. Keys to Success (Overview)
    • Help to pick a common philosophy from which to operate
    • Clarify roles and boundaries with the owner/family/business
    • Deliver the Bad News (don’t join the system)
  • 20. Keys to Success (Overview)
    • Facilitate understanding instead of agreements
    • Challenge your clients
    • Encourage multi-discipline interaction
  • 21. Actions Toward Success
    • How to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the owner?
    • What criteria should be used in decision making and problem solving?
    • Is there a common goal toward which they can work?
    1. Help Pick a Common Philosophy
  • 22. Actions toward Success
    • Identify the different roles
    • Define expectations for each
    • Keep appropriate roles in the interactions; monitor
    • Remember your roles and boundaries as well
    2. Clarify Roles & Boundaries
  • 23. Actions toward Success
    • Candor builds respect
    • Be a reality test - call it the way you see it
    • Talk about what no one else will talk about
    • Don’t be “yes men” advisors
    3. Deliver Bad News (when needed)
  • 24. Actions toward Success
    • Provide candid feedback
    • Offer constructive criticism
    • Don’t be overprotective of your business
    • Treat young and old equally
    4. Challenge Them
  • 25. Actions toward Success
    • Know your limits
    • Build a network of trusted advisors to help with clients
    • Communicate with the other professionals involved
    • Ensure no one is working at cross purposes
    5. Encourage Multi-Discipline Interactions