Family Business Consulting

Developing a higher achieving, healthier functioning, and more lucrative business is a tactical goal of any business owner or leader. JSA Advising is committed to elevating the level of performance in businesses by addressing and aligning the fundamental performance variables of strategy, talent, and motivation. JSA Advising often advises businesses going through the following events:

  • Entering a period of significant transition such as ownership succession planning, leadership transition, board and governance development, as well as others.

  • Looking to enhance strategy through tactical thinking, organizational surveys, and optimized talent management.

  • Being challenged with conflict in key ownership or leadership positions.

  • Wishing to develop the next generation of ownership and leadership.

JSA Advising specializes in several key areas including the following:

Business Transitions
Whether you’re a family business, private partnership, or entrepreneur, business transitions can be a vulnerable time for any organization. Without a well-constructed strategy, clear roles and responsibilities, and proper execution, many organizations will fail to successfully navigate through this treacherous period.

Many teams will go through what sport psychologists call the “forming, storming, norming, and performing” stages of team development. When businesses shake up their internal structures and go through a significant transition, one will see the same stages emerge. However, in the business world, if there are too many “losses” they don’t get to start over next season. This fact suggests it is even more critical for the health and sustainability of the business to get proper support through this transition and the stages of team development. JSA Advising helps family ownership, business leaders, and organizations navigate through these stages to accelerate the process.

Leadership Development
It all starts at the top. Great leaders in today’s most successful organizations and teams have a high level of emotional intelligence, communication skills, are great motivators, and create an atmosphere where team chemistry is nurtured and developed. The days of an “old school” fear-based approach are long gone. People once again want to work for an organization and leaders that genuinely want the best for their employees, and in turn, employees will want what is best for the organization. A since of pride, connecting to a greater good, and performance are all components for success. JSA Advising will work with leaders on how to best create this atmosphere throughout the organization.

Role Clarification
Unclear or misguided expectations are often sources of conflict and tension within an internal transition. Clearly defining roles and expectations for each job responsibility prior to a shift can help prevent a lot of long-term damage on the backend of a transition. JSA Advising helps businesses take a more proactive, preventative approach to transitions which works with ownership, board, and/or key management to plan and assist in their transition.

Strategic Thinking
The chief objective of strategic thinking and planning is fairly simple; it is to help an organization change in a proactive manner. Although the concept is simple, the implementation and success of this process is quite complex. Anyone who has gone through a strategic planning session understands the implementation of a plan is where things tend to derail. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the strategic planning book sit on the organization’s shelf for years. Implementing a customized approach that focuses on motivating factors to sustain the changes outlined in the plan is key and essential to effectively navigate sustainable change. JSA Advising’s strategic thinking and planning process focuses primarily on the human element. By focusing on the motivating factors for managers and employees, one tends to identify and reinforce the key drivers to effectively implement sustainable change within an organization. JSA Advising recognizes that employees, managers, and owners are motivated differently and at times make decisions based on emotion rather than logic. Improperly addressing these factors often contributes to the downfall of traditional strategic planning processes…that is, until now.

Conflict Resolution
Change will always cause conflict. Conflict occurs on two primary levels. The first is on how individuals process information or make decisions (Adizes). Personality types and past experiences create a way of operating in the world that typically works for an individual. The dilemma is that not everyone has the same personality type or worldly experience as others in an organization. The second source of conflict comes from how we implement or act upon the decisions that are made. There are many ways to skin a cat, and yet most of us believe that our way is the superior way. How many times have we said to our co-worker or spouse, “If they just would have done it this way, none of these problems would have occurred”?

Conflict is not a negative thing in and of itself. In fact, conflict can be very healthy for individuals within an organization or ownership group because it allows for various opinions to surface and be challenged. Conflict becomes negative when it is not resolved. Often, we see unresolved conflicts when a system is lacking trust and respect (Adizes).

Another factor that can lead to systems that struggle with conflict or tension is when there is an addiction present or personality disorder that has not been properly treated. Many times these struggles can be overwhelming for a system to address, and a majority of systems don’t know how to properly address them if they wanted to confront the issue. JSA Advising offers system-wide education and has relationships with other health care professional organizations that specialize in working with individuals who are struggling in high-functioning family systems or businesses.

Organizational Surveys
JSA Advising uses the latest technology to provide customized employee, management, board, and ownership surveys to clients seeking to build a more optimized and insightful organization. For more information click here.

Succession Planning
In family business or privately held partnerships, it can be difficult deciding the best course of action when an owner is looking to retire or exit the business. The legal, financial, managerial, and emotional factors that come into play during this transition can be overwhelming. What can be more difficult is that many advisors, (attorneys, financial advisors, and insurance providers) are all approaching this transition from their own perspective and one that typically involves a product they are selling. So how do you approach this transition without being taken advantage of and still achieve what you, your family, partners, and/or employees desire? The key is to start with yourself and be clear about what you want. So often I have witnessed business owners getting pressured into making decisions because they are getting advice from their accountant that it will save on tax payments. For example, a family business owner decides to put a majority of his shares in an irrevocable trust because his accountant advised him it was the best course of action and would save the business and family several thousand dollars in tax incentives. Yet, it prevented the next generation from accessing the shares until a specific age and created all sorts of discourse within his family unit. When I asked about the overarching goal for his succession, he simply replied to me, “to provide more opportunities for my family and make them happy.” I asked if he would have paid a few more thousand dollars in taxes to make that happen. He said he did, but didn’t think that was an option. As an owner of a business, there are a lot of options for legal buy-sell agreements and financial means to support retirement. However, the first step is to define what is most important to you. JSA Advising helps family business owners, privately held partnerships, and entrepreneurs work through this complex and challenging period to help find a solution that is fulfilling and sustainable.

Next Generation Coaching and Development
A major factor in unsuccessful family business transitions is a lack of preparation from the next generation of leaders and owners. As many businesses grow and become more professionalized, the skill sets, policies, and procedures for the elder generation no longer apply. Therefore, the next generation needs to learn and develop new skill sets (not just repeat the previous generation’s behaviors) to successfully navigate the business in a new era. JSA Advising takes into context the age and developmental level of not only the business, but also the next generation of leadership and offers a customized plan to develop the up-and-coming owners and leaders. The coaching includes leadership assessments, education, and access to additional resources that can enhance the next generation’s understanding of family roles, ownership, governance, and management.