The importance of “family time”

Liz WalzWhen we ask dealers to write about their employee relations strategies in Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealer Application, many talk about the “family” atmosphere they try to create. Of course, a good percentage of dealerships are literally family-run operations, so that’s no surprise. But the “family” philosophy has also been adopted by lots of companies without a single blood relative in the bunch.

I like the idea. In my experience, the more personally invested employees are in the business, the harder they’ll work to support it. And the better the relationships between staff members, the better the team’s performance.

Those dealers who report the highest levels of employee satisfaction within their company seem to have the best financial results. But to take it a step further, we’ve also noticed that the highest performers tend to have better communication with their employees. And by communication, I mean meetings. 

It makes sense when you think about the foundation for good family communication. Last week, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University released the results of a study, called “The Importance of Family Dinners.” They reported that teens who report typically receiving grades of C’s or below in school are likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs than teens who typically receive all A’s or A’s and B’s in school. Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are one and a half times likelier to report getting mostly C’s or lower grades in school. In other words, the more family meetings or family time that takes place, the better the family members’ performance.

So, if you want to have a better year in 2010, there is one small thing you can do to get there: add a weekly meeting. But don’t meet for the sake of meeting. Pick one of your top three goals for the year — maybe it’s improving customer satisfaction, cutting expenses or increasing revenues. Use that meeting to brainstorm about how to meet your goal, to train together as a team (read a book together and discuss it or watch a training video), to celebrate victories and to learn from your mistakes. You may be surprised by what can be accomplished through that one little change.

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