Great Expectations in Enterprising Families
Writing this blog every week means I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting viewpoints to expound upon in this space.
I usually collect ideas and set them aside for a time, and while they germinate in my head (and in an email folder) sometimes a new slant comes up and allows me to almost kill two birds with one stone.
So it is this week, with a look at how important expectations can be in a family that’s in a position to transition significant wealth to the next generation.
PPI Strikes Again
I lost count a long time ago as to how many of my posts have been inspired by my participation in events and webinars put on by the Purposeful Planning Institute (PPI).
So once again in early July the thought leader guests (Coaches Mimi Ramsey and Stephanie Hardwick) did not disappoint when they brought up “expectations”.
The money quote, which I hesitate to qualify as a quote since I’m not sure I got it verbatim, was that “unmet expectations are the biggest source of conflict”.
Wow, so true. Can you think of anything that causes more; I can’t.
Family Enterprises Are Rife with Examples
Anyone who works with business families is familiar with the common refrain that they need to work on improving their communication, and that’s certainly true in almost all cases.
What they neglect to point out is that very often some of the most glaring gaps in their communication are around the very subject of expectations of one another.
A related idea that fits right into this topic is that loaded word, “assumptions”; i.e. everyone makes their own assumptions about how things are, and what’s expected, without ever checking to see if other people view things the same way.
Expectations are typically somewhere high up on the list.
When a New Slant is Actually an Old Slant
I noted off the top that I love it when a subject comes up from two different angles, allowing me to tie them together in one blog.
The part I just related, about unmet expectations and conflict, was quite recent, but the other angle has been simmering in the back of my mind for quite a while.
This piece is a bit more involved, and it also comes from someone I first met thanks to PPI, none other than David York.
If his name sounds familiar, it may be because I’ve mentioned him before, including two whole blogs, each devoted entirely to one of his nuggets of wisdom. See Doing Better than the 4 D’s and Family Wealth Dynamite: One Stick or Two? I’m clearly a big fan.
Three Key Questions for Building Stewardship
Wanting to make sure I got York’s three questions exactly right, to quote them here, as they are so simple and so fundamental, I looked through my accumulation of various slide decks from presentations and happily hit the jackpot when I found that one particular slide, which read:
Six Keys for Creating Stewards:
5. Remove the Ambiguity
– What can I expect?
– What should I not expect?
– What is expected of me?
Rising Generation Family Members Want Clarity
I think that anyone who puts themselves in the shoes of a person growing up in an enterprising family, or a family of wealth, can agree that having clear answers to these questions would go a long way towards giving them clarity on some pretty fundamental topics that will affect their lives in so many ways.
When parents do not communicate the answers to these questions, they leave their children in a position where they each begin to make their own assumptions as to what the expectations are.
As you might imagine, the various assumptions will often be quite different from what the parents are expecting, leading to unmet expectations, which invariably lead to: conflict.
Turning Expectations into Agreement
Back to the coaches on the PPI call I began with; they noted that what families should aim for is turning expectations into agreement.
In order to do that, like York says, you need to have conversations to clarify what those expectations are, and, as he notes, what they are not.
And let’s not forget York’s last point, about what the parents expect of their offspring.
None of these things are automatically known, they need to be discussed, and these conversations are not always easy to have, nor obvious to start.
They cannot be ignored forever, and a coach can help you.