- DTN Headline News
Woodbury: Family Business Matters
Friday, January 30, 2015 11:07AM CST

By Lance Woodbury
DTN Farm Family Business Adviser

With respect to job performance, many family business members often joke "no news is good news." What they mean is that people in the company shouldn't expect to be complimented for their good work. They go on to justify this attitude by statements such as "People shouldn't receive praise for doing what is expected of them" or "I wasn't raised hearing compliments from my parents."

I'm not suggesting praise for substandard work; this kind of acknowledgement can come across as inauthentic. However, recognizing another person's good work or efforts in the family business is important and has several benefits.

1. Reinforces each person's value. The act of acknowledging someone's good work sends a deeper, underlying message. It tells them they have value, they mean something in your efforts to build a business, and there is a purpose to their work. It gives the recipients of your praise confirmation their labors are making a difference.

Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, has written that "Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter -- that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we're recognized for it."

In too many family businesses, recognition of each person's purpose and value is often assumed by virtue of the family relationship. As a result, the praise tends to go unspoken. The thinking is "you are valued because you are my son or my daughter, my wife or my husband," not because of the specific contribution you make to the family business. Consider verbally recognizing the good work done by family members to give both short-term and long-term reinforcement of their value.

2. Sets the tone for productivity. Acknowledging someone's accomplishments shines a light on what they've achieved. And since getting things done is a hallmark of organizational progress, recognizing and celebrating an individual's success encourages momentum, providing a shot of energy to additional forward movement.

In a family business, however, the ownership idea that "someday this will all be yours" is often expected to be enough of a carrot to keep people engaged over the long haul. Instead of telling family members "good job," we expect them to remember that they will inherit the business. A shorter-term reinforcement and positive comment on their work reminds them they are moving in the right direction. Such remarks can help ensure high levels of productivity.

3. Positively impacts culture. Giving only negative feedback reinforces individual feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem, fosters a lousy workplace environment, and creates high turnover and low morale. Such results spell trouble for rural and agricultural businesses needing a qualified labor force. When your workplace develops a reputation for negativity, your ability to attract quality help decreases. Your culture is seen as "toxic."

A culture of sincere recognition not only helps people feel better about themselves, but also where they work. The families I've seen express gratitude for one another's efforts seem to enjoy a more pleasant work environment. Their appreciation of others often starts with those in the family and spreads to others in the organization. Voicing gratefulness is a foundational habit on which a positive culture is built. The resultant fun, deeper relationships and enjoyment of one another is the evidence of this positive culture.

What does it cost to recognize a family member for doing good work? Alternatively, what might it cost your organization if people don't feel recognized for their efforts? I realize in a family business environment it can be awkward to verbally acknowledge our loved ones. However, an investment in recognizing someone can truly benefit everyone.

Editor's Note: Lance Woodbury writes columns for both DTN and our sister publication, "The Progressive Farmer." He is a Garden City, Kan., author, consultant and professional mediator specializing in agriculture and closely-held businesses.

(MZT/AG)


blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Katie Micik
Markets Editor
Monday, January 26, 2015 5:18PM CST
Monday, January 19, 2015 6:16PM CST
Monday, January 12, 2015 6:00PM CST
Technically Speaking
Darin Newsom
DTN Senior Analyst
Saturday, January 31, 2015 3:10PM CST
Saturday, January 31, 2015 2:00PM CST
Monday, January 26, 2015 12:05PM CST
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Friday, January 30, 2015 1:18PM CST
Thursday, January 29, 2015 2:39PM CST
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 3:17PM CST
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 3:32PM CST
Monday, January 26, 2015 3:56PM CST
Friday, January 23, 2015 1:36PM CST
Minding Ag's Business
Marcia Taylor
DTN Executive Editor
Thursday, January 29, 2015 11:24PM CST
Friday, January 23, 2015 5:07PM CST
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:56PM CST
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Friday, January 30, 2015 8:17PM CST
Thursday, January 29, 2015 4:34PM CST
Monday, January 26, 2015 8:51PM CST
Friday, January 30, 2015 11:51PM CST
Friday, January 30, 2015 10:12PM CST
Friday, January 30, 2015 9:00PM CST
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 4:19PM CST
Tuesday, December 30, 2014 9:21PM CST
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 9:45PM CST
Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst
Monday, January 26, 2015 6:46PM CST
Monday, January 19, 2015 11:39PM CST
Friday, December 19, 2014 10:49PM CST
South America Calling
Alastair Stewart
South America Correspondent
Monday, January 26, 2015 8:35PM CST
Friday, January 23, 2015 8:06PM CST
Thursday, January 22, 2015 7:00PM CST
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Monday, January 26, 2015 1:14AM CST
Monday, January 19, 2015 9:18PM CST
Monday, January 12, 2015 3:00PM CST
Machinery Chatter
Jim Patrico
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 5:16PM CST
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 11:34PM CST
Thursday, January 15, 2015 10:28PM CST
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Friday, January 30, 2015 10:42PM CST
Thursday, January 29, 2015 11:40PM CST
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 10:33PM CST
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 4:51PM CST
Thursday, December 4, 2014 6:34PM CST
Thursday, November 20, 2014 6:09PM CST
 
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN