Coaching toward success

A chief learning officer can help family businesses

Successful people, it is said, never stop learning. And now there is a niche market of individuals dedicated to helping family-owned businesses run more smoothly and without conflict: chief learning officers.

A July 6 The New York Times article explains this burgeoning industry can assist with aligning family members' interests so they can make better decisions for their businesses.

Greg McCann, founder of McCann & Associates, DeLand, Fla., is a chief learning officer and counselor to family businesses.

He told The New York Times that encouraging families to shift their focus toward unity can be difficult, but his discussions with them bring more clarity about the family's goals, who they are and what they want. In addition, he says families are forced to talk about issues they may have been ignoring for years.

McCann told The New York Times some families stop the process once they realize what it entails.

"They'd like to be in shape, but they don't want to run or lift heavy things," he said.

The newspaper also spoke with Ruth E. Steverlynck, a chief learning officer and founding partner of Your Family Enterprise, West Vancouver, British Columbia. She said many families believe if they have legal documents such as wills, trusts and partnerships, nothing else needs to be done.

Chief learning officers, she said, "help families learn and develop, [and] help families get excited about learning together and why it matters."

"The ability to have the difficult conversation is the best way to ensure families last 100 years," McCann told The New York Times. "It's the difference between hiring one sibling versus having a hiring policy."

Some families may not want to remain in business together, Steverlynck said, while others want to build a dynasty.

"I say: 'If we roll the clock ahead 20 years, what do you want it to look like?'" she told the newspaper.

Ambika Puniani Reid is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA's vice president of communications and production.


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