Services

Family Dynamics

Greenille by Laga

“In order to grow, family businesses should have the courage to professionalise both the business and the family.”

Studies show that family businesses perform on average better than non-family business: they show resilience, are more profitable than non-family business and bear fewer debts. However, there are some dangers lurking, such as the lure of rapid growth or cracks in consensus. A well-known stereotype claims that these cracks usually take place in the third generation, the generation of the spoilers after acquirers and the inheritor.

Family and business dynamics

We support and guide wealthy families in relation to questions they hold concerning family, business and wealth, as well as interactions. We help the family to come to specific agreements about what concerns them most and this in a deliberate and thoughtful way. Examples of concerns refer to family business succession; how to build wealth and to make sure it grows; or how to make sure that (grand)children feel good and get along with each other constructively.

Agreements about these topics are written down in for instance a family charter, the establishment of a family council, an arrangement concerning family business succession or rules and agreements about family governance. Lawyers and tax specialists of our advisory team then implement the legal aspects of those agreements in legal instruments such as succession planning, inheritance agreements, a family pact or a fiscal restructuring.

In doing so, we adopt a process approach. This implies we facilitate families in a trajectory over time so that the family can grow in mutual trust and respect and family members learn how to communicate constructively and listen actively in an empathetic way. In this way, family agreements get a solid foundation. It heightens the chances that family members will live up to the agreements made and at the same time, they are equipped with skills and tools to deal with challenging situations in the future. The family as a whole, teams up to work on the continuity and sustainability of the business, and family harmony.

Being part of a wealthy family is not only a privilege. It also brings along responsibilities to deal with the family, business and wealth in a wise and sustainable way.

Our goal is to make sure that every family member feels responsible, acts as a sustainable shareholder and finds a role that suits him or her best. This benefits own interests, but also those of the family and future generations. Our approach reaches further than deciding on management positions or the members of the Board of Directors.

Approach

We always start from the specific needs of the family at a given moment. This implies we work in a flexible, tailor-made way at the pace of the family, which may take place in different phases. Often, we start with a Discovery Lab: this lab takes place in one day. With the help of one-on-one conversations, interactive exercises and a collective dialogue in the family, we explore the concerns that live in the family as well as the priorities of these concerns for the individual family members. At the end of the day, the family determines collectively the next steps of the family (business) which are drafted down in a family plan. This family plan may refer to the start-up or facilitation of a family council, the facilitation of (a number of) conversations, coaching for individual family members or mediation in challenging and conflict situations. Some cases demand a more comprehensive Scan & Plan. Here a detailed scan and analysis is made of the family (business) situation as well as individual concerns and needs. On a regular basis, we organise tailored workshops for children and grandchildren about for example active listening, definitions of legal concepts, how to interpret economic balance sheets, or decision-making on a group or individual level.

When several family branches are involved, a weekend focusing on group dynamics can be very helpful and relevant to connect different family members and to get to know each other. Usually, this weekend takes place on site or at the head quarters of the family business. The (grand)children fulfill together a variety of group assignments while cooking together and staying over. The nature of exercises varies greatly depending on the family needs: how to communicate constructively, how to give feedback, team building, leadership, negotiation, getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When different various workshops are combined into a program over time, we speak of a Family Academy.

Our team

A team of experts guides and supports the families. Our Family & Business Dynamics team members are experts in communication and group dynamics, organisational psychologists and specialists in negotiation and mediation. They collaborate closely with our lawyers and tax specialists. Our Family & Business Dynamics team is scientifically embedded in the Center for Family Business & Dynamics at the Faculty of Psychology at the KU Leuven and the research line ‘Negotiation and mediation’ at the Institution Contract Law at the Faculty of Law at the KU Leuven.

Our team offers a mix of psychological, communication and legal know how: Prof. Dr. Alain Laurent Verbeke, Dr. Katalien Bollen (Of Counsel), Dr. Tijs Besieux (Of Counsel), Prof. Dr. Martin Euwema (Of Counsel), Florence Mottrie (Trainee)

Wheel of offerings

Based on our Wheel of Offerings we design a trajectory containing products and services tailored to the needs of your family business.

Services

Mediation: facilitation of family members in case of conflict or dispute.

Coaching: individual guidance and support in setting personal goals, how to make decisions and dealing with difficult situations.

Facilitation of conversation: facilitation of conversations between family members in order to come to constructive conversations.

Discovery lab: an intensive one-day event tailored to the family needs, during which every family gets the opportunity to voice his/her opinion about the future of the family, business and wealth; this is followed by a collective dialogue and collective decision making in the family.

Scan & plan: a custom-made trajectory taking place over a couple of weeks. Every family member gets the chance to voice his/her opinion about the future of the family, business and wealth as well as the own position in it. These conversations serve as base for an intensive family dialogue. This trajectory is recommended when family members experience problems to match calendars, the level of tension in the family is high, or the family wants to take time to analyze the situation and formulate next steps.

Academy & workshops: (a combination of) workshops in order to strengthen the individual and group competencies. Possible themes of workshops: active listening, group dynamics, decision-making, the definition of legal concepts, entrepreneurship, and coming to shared norms, values, goals and roles.