Sales in your store have been falling for three months.  (Use a three-month or other sufficiently long period of time so real trends can be easily seen, i.e., consistently falling over a time period in a way you have never experienced before.)  What should you do as the leader of the family business do? It’s your chance to bring everyone closer together and get a great solution if you do it the  right way!

How do you tap into the power of the family and your team to fix this situation?

First, call a meeting of your children plus other key people who works for you. Have someone take the role of the main manager who will lead the meeting and have a different manager act as “observer” the with the others participating in the proceedings.  The main manager will be running the meeting.

Have Everyone Write Down Their Solutions

Ask everyone to write their solutions to deal with the problem on paper, putting what is positive about their solution in two columns. Positives in one column, negatives in the other column.

Ask who thinks they have the best solution

If two or more volunteer, ask them to decide among themselves who should begin.  As manager, let them decide, do not choose for them.  You are seeing the workers support each other and how they do it. (After the discussion ask the children to discuss why they allowed the first person to present their solution.)  You probably know why but use this opportunity to learn more about how your workers and family interact and observe.

Ask them to give positive reasons, then negative reasons.  Say that positive first, negative second is the way to discuss family issues so they can easily see which dominates the other aspect of the issue.  Remind participants that discussions where both are randomly presented, do not allow the positive or negative to show the preponderant side.

Discuss Each Solution, Evaluate All Before Picking One

Discuss that one solution beginning with the positive aspects.  Make sure to include everyone in the discussion, by asking for their positive perspective even if they are reluctant to say anything.  There are six steps to doing this successfully

  1. Start by discussing what is positive about the solution. If anyone suggests a negative aspect, ask them to write it down and wait for the negative discussion.  If there are no positives, observe that.
  2. Then lead the negative discussion.
  3. At the end, ask for additional thought about both sides (again first positive then negative). Ask for any opinion changes and why.  Explain that why’s are more important than only a description of what’s changed:  Why’s direct what’s and are where others may be helped in understand ramifications and important points.
  4. Next, ask for the observing manager to give their opinion including why’s.
  5. Then vote on how many are for this solution.
  6. Finally, ask the discussion leader to give their opinion.

Repeat for Each Potential Solution

Your objective is to get everyone thinking as a team and learning that there may be excellent ideas and parts of solutions that come out of a full discussion of everyone’s solutions, even if they are not one of the best.

You’ve Just Solved Your Problem Using the Best Thinking of Your Family and Team

When all solutions have been discussed and you have collectively come up with a final and best solution, you’ve done the job. You’ve identified the problem, discussed it and crafted the best solution you can and decided on a course of action.

This whole process is ordered in the way your family to think about things: positive aspects, negative aspects, then why’s and possible opinion changes then discussion with others before action is taken.

This process assists in learning an organized thought process that aids your group in developing clear thinking that looks for positive and negative then allows informed discussion and decision making.  A necessary skill in every family.