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Kathy Marshack News

How to Have Tough Conversations & Give Useful Feedback

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Learn why we have trouble with this type of conversation and discover 7 ways to ensure you always give fair, objective feedback when it’s needed.Don’t you love to receive praise and commendation? It feels so good. However, receiving, and even giving, criticism hurts. Even though feedback is supposed to makes us better at work and in life, we perceive it to be negative, because there’s a potential to hurt someone’s feelings or even destroy our relationship with them. That’s what makes these conversations so difficult.

Our unconscious biases contribute to this problem. They interfere with giving, and receiving, effective feedback. Your feelings about a person greatly impact how and what you say. For example, if you feel someone needs nurturing, you become gentler. If someone irritates you, you become blunter. Your biases may be influenced by so many things, like a person’s position, gender, financial status, familial relationship, or even looks.

If you want to give fair, objective feedback, first ask yourself, “Why am I giving this feedback?”

It’s helpful to identify what motivates you to give feedback. Are you lashing out and trying to settle a score? Or are you sincerely trying to help someone become a better person? Or does your motivation fit somewhere in between?

You can ensure you’re giving the most helpful feedback possible by remembering the 7 keys to giving thoughtful and objective feedback:

  1. Regularly give commendation, so criticism is easier to take, when it’s needed.

  2. Rather than focusing on personality flaws or differences, focus on actionable items that can be implemented immediately.

  3. Get all the facts. Before commenting, make sure you understand the whole situation.

  4. Be very specific about what’s wrong and what can be done to fix it.

  5. If you do have to give feedback on a personality trait, give specific examples of how the trait affected the task or situation at hand and how specific improvements can be made.

  6. Gather your courage to speak, by clearly defining your reasons for giving feedback. Holding back doesn’t benefit anyone.

  7. Bounce your criticism off of a trusted colleague first, but frame it as a conversation about professional development, not naming names or even hinting, so it doesn’t devolve into gossip.

A way to double check your feedback, to make sure it isn’t biased, is to ask yourself, “Would I give this feedback to anyone else in this situation?” When others see that you’re striving to be fair in your feedback, they’ll be more open to accepting it. And when you strive to see the intent of feedback given to you, it becomes easier to accept.

As a family business coach, I love helping families make it work at home and at work. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Burnout Isn’t Normal! 9 Easy, Changes You Can Make Today

Monday, June 18, 2018


Stressed, overwhelmed, and suffering from burnout – so many people suffer from these that we’ve begun to think they’re normal. But they aren’t. They signals that something in your life needs to change. Here are nine easy changes you can make today that will help you recover your health and happiness.Do you feel drained, overextended, sluggish, unmotivated, even uncommonly cynical or ambivalent because of your work load? These are all symptoms of burnout. Even though a nationwide 2016 survey shows that 50% of Americans in the workforce are exhausted, it’s not normal to live like this! The World Health Organization classifies occupational stress and burnout as a very real and dangerous health hazard.

You are not a “wimp” or a “slacker” to make wise choices that protect your mental and physical health. Even if you’re not able to take a few days off work, there are things you can do today to recover your health and happiness:

Connect with a loved one. Whether it’s a friend or family member, you need to spend more time with those who understand and support you.

Practice focused breathing. Mindful breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax and manage stress.

Take frequent breaks. Preferably include walking in your break – just five minutes for every hour will make a huge difference.

Create a more peaceful work environment. Get an ergonomic chair and desk. And have a screen saver or framed photo that makes you feel happy. Adding a plant to your work space may help too.

Start a hobby. Outside interests give you something to look forward to after work. It helps you decompress and dissociate from work.

Refocus on your health. Consciously make improvements to your diet, exercise and sleep. You may feel like you don’t have time, but you will be forced to take time later, when your health seriously fails.

Find something to laugh about. Laughter releases feel-good brain chemical, so it’s a great stress reliever.

Quit procrastinating. When you feel anxious over a task, it’s easy to put it off. You may experience a small sense of relief, but that task will be nagging at you, always there in your mind. And more importantly, you’re depriving yourself of a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Break a big task into smaller steps. Achieving tiny goals can lead to increased dopamine levels in the brain. Do just one thing. Pat yourself on the back. Take a deep breath and do the next thing. You can do this!

Give these tips a try and visit me on Facebook to share the ones that work best for you. If you’re experiencing a prolonged or severe form of anxiety, stress, or depression, please consider seeking professional help. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that's more convenient.

Entrepreneurs – How Mindfulness Is Good for Business

Monday, January 22, 2018


Practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you stay focused, less stressed, and more positive, as part of your self-care regimen, to benefit yourself and your business.As an entrepreneur, you probably work long hours. Between building your business and caring for your family, self-care can quickly take a backseat.

But with what result? A lot of built up stress with no relief in sight. This is bad for you, and for your business. To combat the personal and professional consequences of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I encourage many of clients to employ the practice of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. You focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, thus helping you be truly present, living in the moment.

Before you dismiss mindfulness as some sort of hippie nonsense, there is solid, scientific evidence supporting the benefits of meditation. The latest research in neuroscience suggests that mindfulness causes real, observable changes in the brain. There is decreased activity areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering combined with increased activity in the areas associated with focus and cognitive control. There is also decreased activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Finally, they have noticed an increase in activity in the left frontal cortex which is associated with positivity.

So mindfulness changes your brain to be more focused and controlled, less stressed, and more positive. How do these changes then benefit your business? Mindfulness helps you to:

  • Discover your true motivation and drive. Entrepreneurs burn out when they do things for the wrong reasons, such as fame, fortune, or notoriety. Of course everyone needs to make money, and it’s not wrong to want recognition, but if these are your only motives behind your business, you will get pulled off track quickly. Mindfulness guides you back to the greater reasons you started your business. It helps you gain satisfaction from doing things for yourself and for the right reasons. Because of this, you and your business can continue on and grow.

  • Develop resilience. You will see how every failure, every bump in the road, is a chance to learn. Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up, you will develop the resilience needed to keep going in spite of problems. You will have an easier time standing back up and dusting yourself off. It helps you continue to get things done, even under very challenging circumstances.

  • Make needed changes. Mindfulness helps you challenge your approach to life and business when you reach a roadblock or experience failure. It helps you analyze your problem and determine objectively why you are not obtaining the results you want. The process of mindfulness helps you try different things, even when you are naturally opposed to change.

  • Trust your instincts. Entrepreneurs often use their instincts and intuition to make some of the best decisions for their life and business. You need to train yourself to trust your gut. So often entrepreneurs are stressed, pulled at from all directions, get advice and input from numerous sources, to the point that they lose confidence in their own instincts. Practices like mindfulness help you tune into your inner voice and reconnect with your intuition.

  • Enjoy the success you have right now. Entrepreneurs set goals and work toward them like no one else, and that’s part of why you are successful! But many entrepreneurs fail to slow down and rejoice in their present successes. Mindfulness helps you to focus on the things that make you feel successful now. This, in turn, will help you create more success.

Entrepreneurs face many challenges. What challenges are you dealing with? Could you use help achieving a more balanced and satisfying lifestyle? If so, contact my office and schedule an appointment. My office is located in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that is a better fit for your busy schedule.

Holiday Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Along with joy and festivities, the holiday season can bring extra stress and work, especially when you run your own business. How can you not only survive the holiday season but truly enjoy itThe holidays are supposed to be a time to reconnect with family and friends, relax, and refocus on the important things. Ideally it should include looking for ways to give back and showing our gratitude for the life we enjoy. Unfortunately, busy entrepreneurs sometimes view the holidays as something they need to get through or survive.

What is it about the holiday season that creates so much stress and anxiety?

Since it’s such a significant time of year, it becomes very busy, very quickly. Think about all the things you try to pack in to the last few weeks of the year: vacations, holiday parties, hosting out of town guests, school events, community functions, shopping for gifts…the list goes on and on. That doesn’t even count the things you have to do for your business. You have to think about employee bonuses, client gifts, end of the year tax and accounting details, and last-minute rush orders.

With all the things you have to do, it would easy to become overwhelmed or just lock yourself in your office until the New Year. But that won’t help the situation. Working non-stop without taking time to de-stress and care for yourself is not good for you, and will not help your business in the long run.

So how can you survive this holiday season with enough energy to start the New Year with a bang? Here are some holiday survival suggestions for even the busiest entrepreneur:

  • Acknowledge the stress. Once you are mindful of the realities of this time of year, you are in a better position to handle them. Identify which things create the most stress for you, and create a plan for how to deal with them.

  • Prioritize your time. Make a to-do list and start prioritizing. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, and so many weeks before the New Year. So decide what needs to be done, and what can wait. Be realistic about what can and cannot get done. Delegate some responsibilities to others if possible.

  • Be positive. An optimistic outlook is linked to a myriad of mental and physical health benefits. It is also contagious. Your positive attitude can bring up the attitude of those around you. Having a positive attitude will help you navigate the highs and lows of running a business over the holidays.

  • Take care of yourself physically. Exercise regularly, eat right, and get enough sleep. When your schedule gets too packed, the first thing that tends to go is self-care. Don’t let that happen. To be at your best, you need to take care of your physical needs.

  • Look at the big picture. There are a lot of things that “need” your time and attention. But look at the big picture. Your friends and family are the most important things in your life. Use this time to make memories with them. When it comes to your business, instead of getting caught up in the little details, focus on the core business ideas that will ultimately help your business grow next year.

If you follow these suggestions, you are well on your way to enjoying a less stressful holiday season and being prepared to hit the ground running. As you set personal and business goals for the New Year, it can be helpful to consult a trained therapist who can help you reach them. Please call my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that’s a better option for you. I can help you prepare yourself from the inside out to succeed in life and business in the coming year!

How to Make Your Office Space Work When You and Your Partner Work from Home

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Find out how to meet the especially difficult challenge of setting up a functional shared work space that will allow you and your partner to succeed.Setting up a home office can be a time-consuming process. Of course, some people who work from home are content to set up their laptop at the kitchen table and call it good. But many of us who work from home want to make our workspace more professional and inspiring.

Do you work from home? Then you already know that setting up a great home office is hard enough to do when you are doing it for yourself alone. You spend time mapping out the space, purchasing the perfect office furniture, filling the walls with inspiring art, adding air-purifying plants, and finalizing the space with personal touches.

But what if you have to set up a home office for two?

This is a situation that many couples find themselves in. Whether you both start out working from home, or your situation evolves to where you both end up conducting your business at the house, it can be very difficult to set up a functional home office that will fit both parties.

What can you do to make the process easier? Here are a few ideas:

  • Define your workspace. Do you have two spare rooms that can be used as office space? Then separate your workspaces by room. If you don’t have the extra space, divide the one office into distinct areas. You many want to face your desks away from each other to minimize distractions and maintain privacy when making phone calls.

  • Evaluate your needs and preferences. Workspace needs and preferences can vary. One person may need more desk space either due to their type of work, or because they simply like to spread out. One of you may prefer to sit in a big cozy chair to work, while the other prefers a standard desk and office chair. Make your side of the room look and feel the way you want and need, and let your spouse do the same.

  • Create office hours. Sometimes it’s best for a couple to use the office alone. So set up office hours to share the space. One person gets to use it in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Perhaps the person not using the office can set up at the kitchen counter for a few hours, or whatever works for them.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. The best thing you can do for your relationship in general, but especially when you are both sharing a workspace, is communicate openly and honestly. Discuss what you need, when you need it, and what ground rules should be followed. This also applies if you want to be able to spend time with your spouse during the day. You are, after all, working under the same roof. So why not take advantage of that? If you want to chat or go to lunch, and your spouse doesn’t have time, don’t be offended. Instead, make an appointment. Schedule time together.

  • Respect each other’s space. Treat your spouse’s workspace the way you want yours to be treated. Give them privacy while they work. Don’t try to talk to them while they’re on the phone, or write them notes while they’re working. Create boundaries and respect them.

  • Give each other the benefit of the doubt. There are going to be times when your spouse intrudes on your space, and vice versa. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and try to not take it too seriously, unless it becomes a habit. Just as co-workers in a traditional office can get on each other’s nerves, you will likely have moments where you rub each other the wrong way. Have a sense of humor, see the best in your spouse, and move past small annoyances.

There are many other challenges that dual-career and dual-entrepreneur couples face. It can help to work with a therapist with years of experience helping couples succeed as they build their business and their lives together. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to set up an appointment. If your busy schedules don’t allow for in-person therapy, please consider online therapy. Or for more advice on this lifestyle pick up a copy of my book: Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. I recently released the second edition and you can get the paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon.

Entrepreneurship - Often the Perfect Solution for Gifted Adults

Monday, November 20, 2017


Gifted adults tend to struggle with a traditional career, but the qualities that make it hard are the same qualities that can make them great entrepreneurs.Are you a gifted adult? If so, you probably already know that finding the right career path can be more difficult for you than for others. Why do gifted adults tend to have a hard time finding the right fit for their career?

One reason is that gifted adults often struggle to stick with one thing. Many times they are interested in, and good at, so many different things. This broad range of talents and interests can make choosing and sticking with a just one career tricky.

On the other hand, because they do excel at an early age, gifted persons can become over-focused on one particular area of expertise. Family, friends, and teachers notice their abilities and encourage them to pursue that field. Before they know it, they end up on a career track at an early age. This can cut off creative thinking about other opportunities that might better suit their values and personality.

So whether you’ve jumped from one career to another and can’t find the right fit, or you’ve been stuck in the same old job for years, you might be ready for something new. Life is too short to have a career that leads to dissatisfaction, discontentment and boredom.

Over the years I’ve seen that many gifted adults find entrepreneurship to be the perfect solution. You may have heard that entrepreneurship is an incredibly challenging way of life. And that is true! It requires a drive, focus, and commitment that many people either don’t have, or aren’t willing to dedicate to a business. An entrepreneur needs to think outside the box and take risks.

It takes a special kind of person to make a success of entrepreneurship.

But the good news is that the special qualities needed to create a thriving business are exactly what make gifted adults great candidates for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs have to adapt to new markets, products, and trends quickly. Entrepreneurs are doing a million things all at the same time, trying to juggle all the parts of their business. They are master problem-solvers and love finding solutions for their business challenges.

So if you are a gifted adult ask yourself: Are you a quick learner? Can you spot trends and movements? Can you complete assignments quickly and efficiently? Do you thrive on solving problems and overcoming challenges? Are new skills usually easy  for you to learn?

Does entrepreneurship sound like it might be the challenge you’re looking for? Take these steps to start your course toward entrepreneurship:
  1. Look at your circumstances objectively. Don’t blame anyone else for pushing you into a career, not pushing you hard enough, or for doubting you. Don’t blame your “giftedness” either. You have the power to change yourself and your circumstances when you make a conscious decision to do so.
  2. Identify the right business for you. Maybe you’ve had business ideas in your head since you were a child. Great! Revisit and explore those childhood dreams. But also give yourself permission to explore. Look at the many different facets of yourself and listen to your intuition. Ask yourself: “What gives me energy?” “What brings me joy?” 
  3. Make a plan. A business plan will help you gain clarity, focus, and confidence. Write down your goals, strategies, and actions. 
  4. Work out the details. Consider your target audience. Secure funding. Build a support network. Get the word out about your product or service.

After years of rejection and misunderstanding, a gifted adult has much misinformation about his or herself that may even be described as a “false self.” Through psychotherapy and education about giftedness you can reclaim your true self, find meaning in life and quite possibly create a whole new business enterprise for yourself. If this is something you’d like to explore, I can help you. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to set up an appointment. If it is better for you, I also offer online therapy.

Discover Timeless Advice for Couples with the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Monday, November 06, 2017


Book cover - Entrepreneurial Couples Making It Work at Work and at HomeWhen I was growing up, entrepreneurship was out of the ordinary. The norm was that you’d get a job with a company and stay there until you retired.

Later when companies downsized and people lost their secure positions, many had to get creative and make jobs. The entrepreneurial lifestyle took off like a rocket. Men and women individually became entrepreneurs. But what really interested me was that men and women in romantic relationships ventured into the entrepreneurial arena together.

Over the years, these entrepreneurial couples have stumbled through the challenges without much of a roadmap. So they didn’t have a lot of wisdom to pass onto the next generation. They were still trying to figure it out by trial and error. Helping these couples that kept appearing in my office for marriage counseling is what motivated me to write my book in 1998, Entrepreneurial Couples Making It Work at Work and at Home.

What about the state of entrepreneurship today, almost 20 years later?

According to the Kaufmann Foundation, in their 2015 State of Entrepreneurship Study, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are twice as likely to launch a new business compared to millennials.

Baby boomers who worked for corporate America are turning to entrepreneurship rather than retiring. Many of them want to make a difference and do something meaningful with their lives. While others just need the income and they don’t want to work at Walmart or McDonalds. And now that the kids are gone and they’re empty nesters, many baby boomer couples want to spend time working together.

Statistics show that a smaller percentage of millennials (born between 1982 - 2004) and Gen X (born 1965-1984) are pursuing entrepreneurship. It’s not that Millennials don’t want to start their own businesses. A 2016 report from EY and the Economic Innovation Group found that 62 percent of millennials have considered starting their own business, but they can’t afford it (paying off student debts most likely).

What’s the trend for entrepreneurial couples?

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 90 percent of American businesses are family-owned or controlled and Harvard Business School estimates that at least half of all companies in the US are family businesses. A study by National Federation of Independent Businesses reported that there are just over 1.2 million husband/wife business teams.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute:

 Percent of family owned businesses that remain in the family into the second generation 30%
Percent of family owned businesses that remain in the family into the third generation
 12%
Percent of family owned businesses that remain in the family into the fourth generation
 3%
Number of husband and wife teams running companies
 1,200,000
Percent of family owned businesses led by a female CEO or President
 24%
Percent of family owned businesses that indicated the next successor is a female
 31.3%
 Percent of family owned businesses that have women in top management positions  60%
 Percent of Fortune 500 businesses that are family-controlled  35%
 Average amount donated annually by a family run business  $50,000
Percent of family business owners that expect to retire by 2017
 40.3%
 Percent of those retiring who have not selected a successor  47%
 Percent of family business owners who have no estate plan beyond a will  31.4%

Why do family businesses and entrepreneurial couples fail?

Statistic Brain shows that 60% of failures are because of problems with communication and trust. 25% because of lack of preparation from the next generation. 15% because of all other issues like poor financial planning, legal advice and so forth.

The interest in family businesses and couples who run the business together has not diminished. That’s why I’m happy to release the second edition of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. You can get the paperback or kindle edition on Amazon.

Its timeless and proven wisdom is based on my years of working with entrepreneurial couples from many walks of life and business styles. I’ve seen their struggles and I’ve documented what does and doesn’t work. This book will help you get to know yourself and your partner on the deepest level possible, ensuring you can communicate what matters most to you.


How to Cope When a Narcissist Is Running the Family Business

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


If a narcissist is in charge of your family business it can be incredibly difficult to deal with, but there are things you can do to copeThere are narcissists everywhere and they fall on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is the charismatic leader who, besides an inflated ego, isn’t that hard to manage. On the other end is an individual who genuinely has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This person is manipulative and easily angered, especially when they don’t get what they consider to be enough praise and attention.

It’s one thing to deal with a narcissistic boss at work. Theoretically, at the end of the day you can leave him behind and focus on your own life and family. Things get trickier when the narcissistic boss runs the family business. You can’t just leave that work and enjoy your family – they are your family.

So how can you cope when there is a narcissist running the family business?

Assess if the person truly is narcissistic. Narcissists have an egotistical preoccupation with themselves, their preferences, their needs, and their successes. But just because your family member in charge demands respect or sometimes enforces policies you don’t like, it doesn’t make them a narcissist. However, if they are completely absorbed in themselves, especially to the detriment of others, you are likely dealing with more than just high self-esteem.

Look for the root of the problem. Did this person have to overcome extreme trauma or hardship to get where they are today? Often a “survivor entrepreneur” will manifest narcissistic tendencies born from their circumstances. They had to depend on themselves to such an extreme degree to overcome poverty, lack of parents, illness, or disabilities that they have trouble giving other people a role in their success. Sometimes this quality is an extreme reaction to feelings of vulnerability. If you look honestly at a person, you will likely be able to find something that contributed to the development of their me-first attitude.

See the good. The traits that make a narcissist difficult to handle are likely the same traits that drove their success. Appreciate the good things they do and the ways in which they are making the company succeed. If you can re-categorize their traits as positive instead of negative it will go a long way toward making them easier to deal with.

Communicate openly and honestly. I say this regularly, but it bears repeating. When you work with your family, unresolved emotions can complicate the business relationship. Families in business together need to take the time to communicate regularly, openly, and honestly. You may need to express how their actions make you feel. Even if they don’t respond well, it will help you feel better to take a stand for yourself. (If you’re too afraid to speak up, then it’s time to get professional help from a therapist.)

Focus on yourself. You can be happy if you keep your focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You can’t make your family member change their personality. But you can continue to work on yourself. It’s not easy when it comes to a family business but remember that sometimes the healthiest choice is to walk away. You can work elsewhere!


Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has severe Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). This is characterized by an “all-about-me” attitude. It manifests as thoughtless, self-absorbed behavior, and rends contemptible harm. My upcoming book delves into Empathy Disorders and what you can do to protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. To stay up-to-date on it’s release sign-up for my newsletter.
 
If you are dealing with a person with extreme narcissism, you would greatly benefit from therapy, as an individual or as a family group. Please contact my office. I have an office in Jantzen Beach and offer online therapy if that’s a better option.

How to Foster Stewardship in Your Family Business

Monday, October 16, 2017


Family businesses, like the families who run them, go through various stages of development, ultimately reaching the “stewardship” stage.Why did you start your family business? Or why did you choose to carry on the legacy of generations before you? Have your goals and motivations changed and developed over the years?

Your business, like the family that runs it, also goes through different stages of development. There are three stages of growth for a family business:

  1. Entrepreneurship. This is the stage of early innovations, niche formation, and creativity. Long hours, endless enthusiasm, and determination make for a dynamic environment.
  2. Ownership. There is a need for stability and security to nurture the family. During this stage, the family business structure becomes more formalized and institutionalized.
  3. Stewardship. This offers the family business the opportunity to give something back to the community. At this point, employees and family members, especially those in line to take over the business, feel an intrinsic commitment to the success and reputation of the firm. Stewards of the family business nurture it so it endures and grows, and know enough about the company and its strategies to make good decisions.

Entrepreneurs who start a family business want and expect their business to reach the ownership stage. It’s a sign of success and accomplishment. But as the business grows, it’s beneficial to look forward and reach for the stewardship stage as well. Why?

Family-owned firms are influential in the community. How the family manages its wealth and influence can have a major impact on society. You must go beyond simple economic theory to understand this influence. The values of the family and the culture of the family business can have a tremendous social impact, not only on the quality of commerce but on the community as a whole.

Also, when family members and employees are motivated from the inside out to see the business succeed, they are happier workers. Happier workers are more productive workers. It benefits the business to employ persons who are invested in the company personally.

A sense of stewardship is also necessary when planning for succession in the family business. Succession planning typically focusing on selecting good management, but the development of strong owners is critical. Without a culture of stewardship, good management can be sabotaged by entitled owners. Entitlement leads to passiveness about how the company is run and managed and an unwillingness to reinvest in new initiatives.

Through successful stewardship, your family business can build a strong legacy. So how can you foster stewardship in your family business? Here are some ideas:

  • Set the course. Make sure everyone involved knows their purpose and their part in the business achieving success.

  • Create a collectivist culture. Ideas are welcome. Teamwork is a must. No one is in this alone. Encourage constructive criticism.

  • Insist on clarity, transparency, and consistency. Model these qualities for your family and employees.

  • Focus on both short-term and long-term success. Show the need for consistency between short-term actions and long-term goals.

  • Build infrastructure for the future. This can include employee retirement plans or bonuses.

  • Give back to the community. Some family businesses start a charitable foundation. Others donate time or resources to help. Look for ways to give back.

Just as with legal and financial decisions, the emotional or psychological aspects of planning for the future of your business often requires the assistance of a professional. I have worked with many families in business as they grow and move into the stewardship stage. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach or take advantage of online therapy.

Infidelity in the Family Business? How Therapy Can Help

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


With infidelity, therapy is key to finding the root of the problem fixing it from the inside out to mitigate the effects on the family and business.Infidelity - it is a fairly common problem that doesn’t get addressed often enough. Of course, what goes on in a marriage should be private and a couple dealing with infidelity should be given space and time to work out their next steps. But it is not usually that simple.
 
Infidelity can cause aftershocks that affect the lives of many people, not just the marital partners. When a family is part of a larger system such as a family business, the people affected include not only family members, but also employees, vendors, customers, and others who play a role in the family/business system.
 
As much as those engaging in infidelity may think they are being discreet, eventually those around them find out. Even if they can’t quite put their finger on exactly what’s going on, they will pick up on the deception and secrecy. Deception makes people uncomfortable, and uncomfortable people make mistakes. This leads to more stress in the workplace, and the problem will spill out to customers, vendors, and clients.
 
Many people see infidelity as a moral issue, but it may be more useful to see it as a problem of practicality. Infidelity destroys trust not just between marital partners but among those who know the people involved. This type of behavior can be very harmful to your business in terms of respect and market share. It can also influence your employees. Deception in the upper levels of the company could foster that quality in others.
 
The key to mitigating the effects of infidelity on the family and business, and to preventing it from happening again, is communication. Among families in business, because of the need to be supportive, nurturing and protective of the family, sexual improprieties are often covered up. However, avoiding conflict and ignoring infidelity can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must confront the issue.
 
Communication is vital to understanding why the infidelity happened in the first place. The first step would be for the couple dealing with infidelity to speak with a professional psychologist. Infidelity is a symptom of a deeper problem that needs attending to. The really difficult part is figuring out what the symptom is telling you. The last thing the person engaging in infidelity wants to do is discuss their misbehavior, but talking about what happened and why, is exactly what is needed to get to the root of the problem.
 
Eventually other members of the family business may need counseling as well. The natural tendency of all families, whether they are in business together or not, is to cover up problems with the idea that doing so will keep the family safe. A professional psychologist can guide the family toward solutions that work instead of ignoring or hiding the problem. Your family can benefit from the objective guidance of a professional trained in helping families heal and rebuilding trust in the workplace.
 
If this comes up in your business, the minute you get wind of the symptom of infidelity, confront the problem immediately. Don't cast blame, but talk openly and honestly about what the real problem is. If the person is a family member, this is easier said than done! If you need advice on how to handle infidelity in the workplace, please know I have worked with many families, including families in business, on this very issue.
 
Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment, or try online therapy if that is best for you.


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