As someone who has worked in large corporate environments, and had the pleasure (still do in fact), of working in family-run businesses, I can understand and appreciate the stats that have been published this week which claim that family-run businesses tend to receive a greater level of commitment and loyalty than larger companies.

According to the report in the FT, “family run businesses tend to treat employees much more transparently and consistently than other employers”. It would be easy for boards of large companies to read this, sit back, and moan that it’s far easier for smaller companies to manage employees because of the numbers, and the fact that they have emotional ties to the business. Not true.

Engagement, commitment, loyalty and motivation are all the buzzwords that HR directors today would love to have graphs and pie charts depicting an upwards climb towards, and with some creative licence I’m sure those graphs could be created.

Authentic engagement and commitment is not the exclusive right of small, family run businesses, it can be enjoyed by all. First of all, companies that want to create that culture of belonging and loyalty need to actually work out where the resistance is coming from. Yes, this is easy for smaller companies, the boss just walks across the office or factory floor.

Larger companies have to work for it.

The resistance will be found by getting authentic feedback from the masses, and a 360 degree feedback tool will allow you to do this. Once the feedback has been gathered, and this is via intelligent questioning that seeks to worm out deep-set problems and issues.
Once the problems have been located (maybe they are connected to a line manager, or the working environment and company culture), genuine change can start to take place.

Size really doesn’t come into it, this is about focusing on a desire to change the culture within an organisation, from disjointed and unconnected, to connected and engaged with the job at hand.

Family values are important, and for leaders to embed them within their company’s corporate identity, they first need to find out where the resistance is, and more important, what it looks like.

Elva Ainsworth
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