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Family Dynamics – It’s More Important Than You Think

November 12, 2020

What It Is

Family dynamics in its most basic form can be thought of as the patterns of interaction between family members.  It is the inherent way that individuals communicate and how they interpret each other’s behaviors.  This is true not only for family members, but it also holds true for friendships and relationships with colleagues in the workplace.  Having a strong understanding of the personalities around us improves our ability to effectively work with them.  Many believe that this is one of the foundational building blocks for a successful relationship.

Have you ever been frustrated by your father who resists change, despite endless evidence to the contrary?  How about your sister who always has an abundance of creative ideas, but never gets to the execution plan?

We often find that families underestimate the impact of interpersonal dynamics within their family enterprise.  These behaviors can be incredibly frustrating and ultimately threaten your ability to effectively work together.  At the same time, harnessing these interpersonal dynamics may be exactly what your family needs to thrive.

In a family enterprise the people you work with are often the same people you join for dinner or socialize with on the weekends.  For that reason, developing a deeper understanding of those interactions and behaviors can add exponential value to those relationships.

Why It Matters

Families are made up of different people who each have different factors that motivate them.  This alone creates the potential for conflict, but once we embrace this instead of wishing it were different, we are more likely to see it as an opportunity.  An opportunity to build an understanding of yourself and of those around you to more effectively interact and collaborate as a team.  That’s when we start to truly appreciate and value the differences between us.  Simply put, use every crayon color that we’ve got.  

Successful companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have embraced this way of thinking to create highly effective teams within their enterprises, and monitor their interpersonal dynamics as traditional businesses manage their financials.  These organizations cultivate teams that continually raise the bar for their collective success in an environment where people feel understood and appreciated.  This type of environment will undoubtedly increase engagement and create stronger relationships within your family. It will give you the tools to understand and take on the challenges that family enterprises face including the establishment of family governance, the successful transition of leadership and planning for the next generation.

Where To Start

By this point you likely have some appreciation for ‘what it is’ and ‘why it matters’. The next step is to start putting this concept to work within your own family or family office. In a future post, we’ll shift our focus to what this looks like.

An intentional family who understands the natural dynamics operating within their enterprise will be far more successful in working together, and far more likely to achieve their goals.