A subject that is often overlooked, is the importance of conducting regular nuclear family meetings with your immediate family members. There are so many advantages to incorporating family meetings into your weekly or bi-weekly routine. Even when schedules are hectic, making family meetings a priority plays a very important role in a successful and happy family dynamic. Dedicating this time to one another is an important way to stay connected and strengthen your family bond. It’s important to remain consistent with your meetings. Work around busy schedules and squeeze your meeting in- don’t skip. This is a great way to teach kids dedication and consistency. No matter how much time you have for the meeting, always strive to make the most out of your time together.
Gathering together regularly as a family to discuss news, opportunities, or concerns is a great way to establish ground rules for children and also to instill values. Be sure to make it clear what your specific family values are. You could even choose a certain value for each meeting to focus heavy on. To really drive it home, give the kids a take-away assignment for the week. Have them bring with them to the next meeting an example of how they practiced or learned from one of your family values. Reflect on and discuss this experience with them, being sure to give positive reinforcement on a job well done. You can take this even further by sharing your own example. After all, leading by example is one of the best ways we can teach our children.
Family meetings can reduce stress within the household and teach kids and teens how to effectively communicate and problem solve. Discuss different topics one at a time so that you can effectively solve one problem at a time. Doing so can prevent sporadic blow up conflicts. It can also help prevent or decrease constant bickering, fighting, and sibling rivalry. These meetings are a tool that strengthens the parent-child relationship, sibling relationships, as well as spousal relationships. It’s great for kids to learn teamwork from observing their parents in these scenarios. Everyone should be encouraged to participate in family meetings. Being actively involved in these meetings and understanding their importance will help make room for positivity and team work to take place, versus any negative resistance.
Begin each meeting in a special way by sharing either an inspirational quote, a story, or a prayer. When planning your meeting, it’s a smart idea to create a general agenda to follow. This will help the meeting run smoothly and efficiently. You can make sure nothing is left out and it allows you to really set the tone of the meeting. In order for the meeting to be constructive, be sure to set ground rules beforehand. You may also wish to eliminate any distractions such as electronic devices. Everyone should be respectful of each other’s views and listen with an open mind without interrupting. It’s important for all topics to be discussed openly in order to prevent future conflicts. Some key things to make time for in your agenda are 1) Offering help with any personal challenges someone may be having. 2) A family review of what worked well in the previous week, what did not work well, and goals for the upcoming week. 3) Discuss schedules and sync up your calendars. Staying organized together is a great skill to instill and will decrease a lot of day to day stress so that you don’t have to sweat the small stuff. Once you’ve had a few successful meetings, it can be beneficial to delegate others to take turns leading the meetings. By occasionally switching it up, it allows each person to bring something new to the table. Fresh perspectives and new ideas should be welcomed and encouraged. Another creative idea you could try would be to change up the location of your family meetings. When time allows, you could hold the meetings in new fun location versus always in your living room. Go out to a fun restaurant or park. Take a poll within the household- let others participate in deciding where the next fun family meeting location could be!
It’s also a good idea to dedicate a portion of your meeting time for teachable moments. For wealthy families these moments are especially important because of the responsibility to prepare the next generation for leadership and family business succession. Of course a well-rounded education is important, but informal teachable moments are just as beneficial when it comes to preparing next generation leaders. Some ways that you can incorporate this into your family meetings would be teaching them about the industry, sharing stories of the founders of your business, sharing company emails and success stories, etc. When it comes to family business succession, communication is key. Everyone being involved in the discussion of succession planning is vital. Family meetings are a perfect way to establish a common ground to discuss each other’s concerns, thoughts, and goals for a smooth succession. As your family grows in the number of generations, the need for regular semi-annual or annual “Family Summits” or “Family Assemblies” that discuss matters that affect all of the branches of the family become more important. Include everyone in the discussions and decision making processes regarding things such as inheritances, next generation leadership, and family business succession. In doing so, you are helping the next generation mature in their understanding and appreciation for what role they have within the family. It instills pride and responsibility. This type of preparation is invaluable.
Remember- it’s never too late to start deepening the connection with your loved ones. If conducted in a positive way, family meetings can be an incredible bonding time for the whole family and set you up for success. Everyone will eventually be able to communicate more openly and feel more confident in their support system. Use this time together to harvest innovative thinking, passion, and drive. It is important to embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship, as well as family unity.