Over the last 2 weeks we looked at transitions from a couple of different perspectives. We began by looking at some definitions, talking about how transitions are usually the result of a decision, an event, or a realization.

We expanded on that last week, looking at the recognition stage, where the many stakeholders involved each have their own individual points of view, and how most transitions really get acknowledged once a majority of those involved actually recognize that they are now in a transition stage.

This brings us to the Propositions stage, which I like to call the “so what are we gonna do about it?” stage. In the same way that a doctor cannot begin to cure you before knowing what ails you, it is only after the recognition has taken hold that you can move forward into the most important part of all.

Those who know me well will not be surprised to see where I am going with this when I get to the main point here: The key to successfully managing this stage of the transition is communication.

My default strategy in just about everything I do is to always OVER-communicate rather than under-communicate (my wife can attest to this, it drives her crazy).  But when you are in a transition stage, as opposed to more of a status quo period, it becomes even more important to communicate.

I called this the proposition stage, because once we all recognize that we are in a transition, we need to make sure we manage it in the best way possible.  Since we have already mentioned that a number of people are usually involved or at least affected, it stands to reason that their points of view need to be understood at least, and preferably also acknowledged and even incorporated into the way forward.

In fact, communication is a key thread that runs throughout this transition discussion.  Let’s go back to the first part of this. If the transition was kicked off by a decision, communicating the decision is an important step. Great care should be taken to ensure that the decision is communicated in the right way, at the right time, and as broadly as necessary.

If it is driven by an event, communicating the news of the event also needs to be done the right way, insofar as possible. And when a transition comes about as a result of a realization, you can be sure that better communication could have sped up that realization in some way.

The recognition stage is also clearly one where communication is a key component. We talked about how recognition was not just an individual thing, but more about how various stakeholders come to understand that things were no longer status quo, but that they had now moved into a transition.

At the proposition stage, communication can be looked at a bit differently. The decision-maker needs to ensure that they have all the information necessary, and they therefore should have done the necessary communicating to obtain that input.

Once they have everything they need to decide where they now want to go and therefore what the next step(s) should be, proper communication will also help to create the proper feedback loop to ensure that things proceed smoothly going forward.

Transitions are often quite complex to navigate. By breaking them down the way we have in these three blogs, we have tried to look at them in smaller pieces and provide a sort of framework to help discuss things. And the reminder to consider the importance of communication throughout the process will also prove to be helpful in managing your family transitions.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.