Moving with the times: How to convince family members to change the status quo

I was at a networking event this week where a member gets the chance to speak for 20 minutes about something of interest, experience or an insight into a specialist field.

This time the talk was about how he had ended up doing what he does now which is very different from his original career path. Part of his story was about when he worked in his family business with his parents and a particular problem he had when he realised the business had to introduce new technology and having to convince his father it was time to invest in new ways of doing things.

It brought back memories of when I worked in our family business and I had the same challenge to convince my father we needed to introduce new technology to keep our business moving forward. Peter Drucker once said:

“Business has only two basic functions-marketing and innovation”

My father had started our business and had a great deal of knowledge built up over many years and I had only been working in the business for a few years. It can be intimidating for the junior generation to speak about introducing something that may not be proven and has not been experienced by the senior generation. It can take a lot of determination and fact-finding to make the case for the change and if not handled well can lead to confrontation.

If you’re experiencing this type of challenge I would suggest organising a meeting to discuss the options thoroughly and to give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and to voice any concerns. If you are aware of each other’s behavioural profiles and motivations bear these in mind as some will need more time to process information and subsequently make a decision.

Things to consider when making your decision would be:

  • Is it essential or just a nice to have
  • How will it be paid for
  • How long will it take to gain a return on investment
  • Is it a sales generator or cost saver
  • Are there any better or cheaper alternatives
  • What are the training needs?

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