Episode 21: Coaching A Family Business with Mark Terrell
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Episode 21: Coaching A Family Business with Mark Terrell
On this episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Mark Terrell, a coach specializing in helping reluctant leaders create and lead their teams. Mark is also trained in using motivational maps to help leaders understand what motivates their team members and how to inspire and communicate with them most effectively.
Welcome, Mark. It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you.
Thank you for the invite. I’m privileged to be here and I’m looking forward to our chat.
Mark, I thought we’d start off by having you share a little bit of background about yourself and how it is you came into coaching.
From school, I left to join a family retail business here in the UK. That wasn’t probably something that I naturally wanted to do, but because my father had started it about a year and a half beforehand and it was getting busy, he wanted some help. I ended up leaving school at sixteen. We have the option here to stay on the A-levels. That was a decision I had to make, to do that or to join the family business. I did join the family business and I ran that business for 30 years with my father and then he left halfway through. I gradually took more responsibility for that business. During the latter years of running that business, I was a bit disillusioned. I felt like I had to carry on doing it partly because of almost like an attachment to the business and doing the right thing and all those things.
I was lucky enough to have a national retailer knock on the door one day and they came in and made an offer for the store I was running. That gave me the opportunity to do something different. Because I didn’t have a plan, I had a few people suggest to me and ask me, “What are you going to do?” They were saying, “You surely can’t just walk away with the 30 years of experience you had. How are you going to use it?” I actually was working with the coach at the time and she was saying the same thing. She was saying, “You’ve got lots of experience and I know you’re well-enough to know that as far as coaching goes, I think you have the right approach.”
That’s what happened. I was nudged in the right direction. I then had to decide what coaching I wanted to do. That came down to firstly business coaching and then I focused more on family businesses being that I come from a family business and know what that entailed. Latterly in the last year or so, I’ve more focused on what I call the reluctant leader. These are people that like me had joined the business and then ended up managing a team and needing the skills and know how to do that and not having that, and becoming a bit disillusioned with the position. What was happening was I was spending too much time doing something that wasn’t motivating me and not enough time of doing things that did motivate me. I work with that ideal client in mind, someone that is working or managing a team and I help them with the skills, the know-how and the processes and mindset they need to be a leader. It was something that I needed and I wished I had. I help those people that are on the same journey that I was on.
Mark, I appreciate the fact that the specialty you’re focusing on is so related to your own journey. I think it gives it a whole different sense of meaning and purpose and ability to empathize.
I think that’s important because you can help people more when you’ve been there. You’re more emotionally attached to the situation and it helps you engage and empathize with what they’re going through especially if you’re focusing on that client and gearing up your offer, then all your focus is on that. It also makes it a lot easier when you’re marketing your business when you’ve got a clear focus on who you want to help.
With business, because sometimes the ups and down and the stresses that come along with business and with family relationships, there are often many difficulties and challenges in running family businesses. I was wondering if you could share with our audience some of the more common difficulties people in family businesses experience and how you’re able to help them with those issues.
First of all, I’ll tell the story of my family business, which my dad has started. I joined about eighteen months after the business has started. It was a convenience store business. We were open early until late seven days a week. When I joined my older brother was already working in the business and my mother was working in the business. A few years later, my younger brother, he joined the business. It was a full family business, two generations and it was very busy. We were very focused early on and we were getting our heads down. We generally got on quite well because my dad had a clear vision as to what he wanted to create. He’d come from a large retail organization and he wanted to do something himself and leave a legacy and something for us to continue hopefully.
The difficulties and the challenges started for me or when my dad started to step away. That meant that someone had to step up and take charge. That was generally me but that actually meant that I had to manage my younger brother, which when you take into account that he’s my brother, it wasn’t just straightforward managing that person. It was thinking of him also like my brother. It brings that extra dimension in and it makes every decision a little bit more difficult. Me and my brother were quite different. We had our challenges and it was very difficult at times to separate the family from the business, bearing in mind that the important thing was to allow the business to flourish and grow.
It’s a common problem when you’ve got the three elements. You’ve got the business, you’ve got the people that are shareholders in the business and also you’ve got the family. It’s like a three-dimensional thing. It’s that extra dimension of the family which makes it a little bit more complex because we have to bear in mind that there lots of emotions going on within the business with the family connection. There are family values that are important, which need to be maintained within the business. Quite often, the second generation feels that obligation to the first generation that they have to comply with certain things, but also what they want to do is do what they want to do, to do it their way and introduce new things. I was very much in that mold. I wanted to bring in technology, which my dad wasn’t that keen on but eventually, I’ve got my way because he saw that it was the right thing to do. When we talk about family businesses, it’s that extra element of the family and maintaining the relationships within the business and the family at the same time, which makes it an extra challenge.
I can absolutely see, not only do you have the extra dimension of the family, but then you have the generational issues like introducing technology. How did you deal with that with your brother particularly? I could imagine it’s hard to leave the family relationship at the door there.
I don’t know if you’ve got this in the US but here over the UK, we have this middle sibling thing where they tend to be the ones that are the peacekeepers. They’re not the oldest, not eldest or not the youngest. They seem to have a play in that role where they try and stick things together and try and stop factions falling out. That was very much my role. I felt that it was my strength. I’ve always been a people-focused person. That reflects in the way I coach now, but it was very much being emotionally intelligent. It was understanding what’s happening for each party and bringing them together and understanding both points of view to make sure that there weren’t any major falling-outs. I stepped into that role and it was quite challenging. I don’t relish going back there to be honest, but I learned a lot from it. That’s the thing you mentioned about we all go on our journeys and we tend to relate to things that have happened to us and that’s generally what we end up helping people with, the things that we’ve overcome ourselves.
Mark, if hypothetically you had a client come in and talk to you about a scenario where he was the middle brother. Let’s say the younger brother wanted to implement a new policy or a new way of doing things and was getting some resistance from the younger brother. What would be an example of how you would coach a client to navigate that?
Because of my knowledge of motivation, the first thing I would do is to tune in with each one of them. Why is the change needed? Firstly, what’s the motivation behind it? Also, I would look to why there is maybe an obstacle. Why is the other party anti and not accepting the changes needed? That does boil down a lot to what is motivating us and how we deal with things within the workplace because we come to work not for our personalities. We come to work to get things that drive us to do the things that we want to do. The environment has to be right. When the environment isn’t right, that’s when people start becoming demotivated. We tend to find that people hold onto the fact that they want the environment to suit them. When you’ve got two different parties that want the environment to be different, we need to come to a point where we understand both points of view, but we got to find a solution which is best for the business and not try and make it into what’s best for each side. Ultimately, which option is best for the business and to try to take the emotion out of the situation. That’s the way I would look at it nowadays. I didn’t have the knowledge and experience back then but that’s what I would do now.
Putting aside your individual wants. When you said best for the business, one of the things that came to mind and I don’t know if it’s an accurate similarity but it’s like parents going through a divorce. Instead of picking sides and digging your heels in, trying to focus on, “What’s best for the children.”When the environment isn't right, that's when people start becoming demotivated. Click To Tweet
It’s the same scenario. They try to take the emotion out of the situation and to look at it in a bit more logical way as to what outcomes we want and how is this going to affect all the parties. Bearing in mind that we want the best outcome overall. We don’t want a win-lose situation. We want as much as possible to get to a point where it’s a win-win for both without one party feeling that they’ve lost out to the other.
In a family business, you all need the ship to survive well.
That’s what I mentioned about the emotion of it. We know that this business sustains our family life. That’s got to be maintained, but also you’ve got that extra element of the family that needs and wants of different generations. Ultimately, it’s the business that’s got to survive. Because if that doesn’t, then the repercussions can be huge.
Even bringing both parties and reminding them that we both ultimately have the same goal of wanting that business to thrive.
In my position, I’m not emotionally attached to the situation or to the business so I can stand back and give them more of an overview of what I see that happening rather than someone that is in the middle of what’s going on. Sometimes with anything, whether it’s business or just family stuff, we get wrapped up in the emotion of it and we need someone to separate us from what’s going on and get back to more of a logical level.
You can provide a much more objective perspective.
That’s right. That’s the word.
You don’t need to answer this if you don’t want to, Mark. How did your sibling relationships survive through the business, after the business? Was it easier after the business?
I didn’t mention it but my younger brother did actually decide to leave the business. The way he decided to do it was not ideal in that he decided one morning that he didn’t want to do it anymore. We knew that he wasn’t that happy and we’ve given him options to do something different a couple of years before. That was a tough time and obviously, it does leave you a bit of a sour taste in your mouth but now, it’s good. As well as most sibling relationships are, it’s as good as any. We are not running that business together. We have our own separate lives, we do our own thing and that element of the business connection is gone. It’s a lot easier to maintain a reasonable relationship between us.
I think it speaks to sometimes the emotional reactivity that can happen in family businesses.
It’s very much about emotion and it’s about controlling those emotions. It’s not disregarding them. It’s not saying that they’re not relevant, but it’s trying to distance ourselves from that emotion and try to get more of a logical level to move on when there is disagreement. Sometimes family businesses need that extra person to come in and give them that objective view and bring things back to a point where ultimately we’ve got to protect the business. Everyone’s opinion is valid, but what we need to do is think about what’s the best option for the business.
It does seem like you help to mediate the interactions.Everyone's opinion is valid, but what we need to think about is the best option for the business. Click To Tweet
It tends to be like that. To be honest, I don’t do an awful lot of businesses. I work with family businesses now. I’ve got some clients that are husband and wives. I do help them with making sure that they maintain their relationship. The way I do that is to look at what’s motivating each one of them. Also, their behavioral styles and make sure that the business isn’t going to affect their relationship and give them an early warning of potential conflicts and problems that they may have down the line, so they’re able to put things in place earlier on.
I can imagine those can be very challenging and the other thing too is when you’re working with your spouse and you go home with your spouse. That’s a lot.
It’s very much about having boundaries and making sure that you have those boundaries that you cut off. I can remember back to when my dad was terrible for this. We’ll be in a social situation and in one instance he turned to talk about in the business when we’re all trying to relax. It sours everything. It is very much about having clear boundaries.
The work time versus family time.
Someone’s got to be a family charter. This is how we behave, this is how we don’t. We make sure that everyone’s clear on that and they almost sign up to it.
Mark, you’ve mentioned motivation and one of the tools you use is called motivation maps. I was wondering if you could explain to our audience a little bit more about what they are and how people could use them most effectively.
Motivational maps unsurprisingly measure what is motivating us. Anyone that is familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s on that model. There are nine things that we all need to motivate us. We’re all a blend of those nine things. The important thing is to know which ones are most important to us. They tend to change as circumstances change and also they change as our careers develop. The nine motivations are firstly the motivation for security and stability for things to stay the same. Secondly, the motivation for belonging like having friendships at work. Thirdly, it’s what we call the star motivator. That’s the motivation for recognition.
Those first three are what we call relationship motivators. They’re all based on other people. That’s why we call them relationship motivators. The next group of motivators is what we call the achievement motivators. They are the motivation for influence over others and the motivation for money and material satisfaction and the motivation for the expertise and to learn. That’s the achievement. You can see why we call them achievement. It’s because it’s about achieving things, achieving power, achieving money and achieving specialism. The third group of three are the growth motivators. That’s firstly about freedom and autonomy. Secondly, being creative and being innovative. Lastly, by no means least is what we call the searcher. That is the motivation for making a difference.
All those nine motivations are within us. We all need those things. What do motivation maps give us? Firstly, it gives us that language that I’ve described there but it also gives us a measurement of which ones are most important to us, each individual. Also it tells us which ones we feel are being fulfilled. There are lots of measurements there and it gives me as a coach a great insight into individually what’s going on, what’s important to them and how they feel that’s been fulfilled. When you share that within a team or even in a family unit, once you know what motivates each one of you, you can actually accommodate that and make it work for you and that you make sure those people are in the right roles.
Going back to when I was in the retail business, one of the things that I know have always driven me was that I like to innovate. I like to bring new things. When we were changing things, I was almost the project lead in that because I liked new things. When I became a bit disillusioned, it’s that I was not spending much time doing that and I was doing something that didn’t motivate me was having influence over others and managing people. That’s why it’s important. That’s how the tool works. It identifies motivations, it measures them and then we can then use that information for the individual and for the group that has all done a motivational map. It’s very powerful.
I loved the breakdown of the nine different motivators and I surely can appreciate how that’s helpful in terms of understanding both yourself, what’s internally motivating you and someone else. I was thinking about you’re the innovator, but maybe your father was more of the security stability saying he didn’t want necessarily the technology to come in.
You are exactly right. You picked it up instantly then. You can see how that can cause a conflict.The stronger the motive, the more likely you are to take action around it, and vice versa. Click To Tweet
If you have people especially with the stability and an innovator, those motivators are almost polar opposites. How might you navigate a situation like that?
First of all, using the language of motivational maps and bringing out into the open so you can actually see what’s going on. That is one of the biggest learnings and one of the things that help people to understand. What we tend to see is there is a difference between generations that want different things. The younger generation probably wants more of the relationship motivations because they want to belong. As we go on through our career, as we get older, what we want more of is our freedom. We want to be innovative. Also, we want to make a difference. This happens within all organizations. You tend to have three tiers of senior management. You have the middle management and then you have the ground floor shop workers and all those levels tend to be motivated in different ways. That tends to be the problem within the organization.
The senior management is gearing things up to what motivates them and then not take into account what motivates shop floor level of the business. When you bring it out in the open with the language, you actually make people understand, “This is why you behave the way you do.” Because if we break the motivation down as a word into a motive to take action, that’s what it basically means. The stronger the motive, the more likely you are to take action around it and vice versa. If you’ve got a low motive, you’re less likely to take action. I see this quite often when I’m working with clients where they have a low motive to take action around. Sometimes it’s about money. They’re not motivated to make money, so they don’t take many actions around it. They wonder why their business isn’t growing. When they do the motivational map, it gives them almost it’s on paper in front of them and to say, “That’s why.” Because you’re not taking enough action around making money because it doesn’t motivate you.
The thought that came when you’re speaking about this is the book, The Five Love Languages. You think you’re expressing love, but if it’s not in the way that the other person’s ready to receive it, you’re missing the mark. If someone on a certain level was motivated more by money and they’re presenting these monetary incentives to a group that isn’t motivated by money, you’re going to be frustrated.
You’re awarding them in a way that they don’t want to be rewarded, so you’re wasting your money. It’s better to find out what it is that they are motivated by and setting a reward strategy based on that and not just rewarding people with money.
What a wonderful tool and it wasn’t the one that I was familiar with, so thank you so much for bringing it to my attention and to our audience’s attention.
There’s more information on my website if anyone wants to check that out. It’s 1stClassCoachingSolutions.com.
Mark, I also understand you have a podcast of your own. Would you like to mention that?
I do indeed. I started my podcast. That was an inspiration from the ideal client that I work with. It’s The Reluctant Leader Podcast. The format of it is an interview with experts in their field about leadership issues. That varies from all things that a leader has to deal with from looking after the welfare of their team or motivating them. Also, more on the processes that leaders have to go through to get the guests best for their business. It’s a big array of topics that are all geared towards reluctant leaders and giving them the skills that they need. You can find that on iTunes and you can find it on Spotify. If you’re on Android, you can find it on Stitcher.
Mark also has a profile on www.TheCoachingConnector.com. Please also check out his profile there. Mark, is there any final words of wisdom you’d like to share with our audience?
I think it’s reiterating what we talked about and the importance of knowing what motivates you. I’m guessing this is good mainly for coaches to read but I guess there would be other people reading. If you’re in the coaching world, what we’re all looking for is something that opens up our clients so that we can help them in the best way that suits them. Motivational maps have been the difference between me being another coach and having that extra element of something that’s different. Finding a specialism is important and I comment on it from a specialism of motivation. If you’re a coach, find an ideal niche client, an avatar of someone that you like to work with and design everything around that. It makes it a lot easier to market yourself. If you’re not a coach and you’re reading this as getting some advice about coaching, then understand what motivates you. Make sure what you’re doing at work in most cases is motivating and you’re not doing too much of what doesn’t motivate you because you’re not going to be performing very well and you’re not going to be very happy either.
It’s a very important aspect to self-awareness.
I’m sure everyone’s aware of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and the motivational maps will give a window into what is your why and why you go to work.
Thank you so much, Mark. I appreciate you sharing your insights about family businesses and the motivational maps with us. Thank you for being our guest.
Thank you for the invite. I’ve enjoyed it.
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- Mark Terrell
- The Five Love Languages
- The Reluctant Leader Podcast
- iTunes – The Reluctant Leader Podcast
- Spotify – The Reluctant Leader Podcast
- Stitcher – The Reluctant Leader Podcast
- Start With Why
About Mark Terrell
- Lentino, L.M. (2014). Constructive thinking how to grow beyond your mind. Sudbury, MA: Grow Beyond Your Mind.