On August 27, 2013, I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Goering Center Family & Private Business Awards Celebration with Lynn Elfers, CEO and founder of Affordable Language Services. Over 700 people were in attendance at the 14th annual awards celebration held at Music Hall, in the historic Over the Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. The room was filled with excitement, as family and private business owners, including finalists from 92 local organizations, enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres prior to the presentation of the awards.
As a company, we already felt honored to be named a finalist from among the 550 nominees. We were pleasantly surprised to be recognized at the awards presentation as a runner up for family companies in business 15 years or less! Like a typical millennial, my first thought was to digitally share the good news. Hastily taken photographs from my iPhone were quickly texted to co-workers not in attendance, tweeted and added to Facebook. In fact, all of them were of such poor quality that not one merited adding to this blog. Instead, here is a pretty stated photograph of our award taken at the office.
To give you an idea of the rigorous selection process, an independent panel of judges comprised of local business leaders reviewed applications from over 550 nominees. From the nominees, the judges narrowed the field down to 92 finalists and then selected 12 runners-up and 6 winners in 6 overall categories, three for family business and three for private business, based on the company’s number of years in business.
As per the judges article in the Business Courier, this year’s award was focused on Business Leadership. The application questions covered the following concepts:
- Communication of business strategies
- Employee engagement and retention
- Employee task clarity and vision
- Identification and development of future leaders
The judges’ job was to pick the companies that showed the most mature, thoughtful, and innovative approaches to these leadership issues.
The Goering Center for Family & Private Business, at the University of Cincinnati, is a leading educational and informational resource center for family and privately held businesses. With the intent of accelerating business growth and sustaining family business harmony, the Goering Center helps businesses address the unique and critical issues facing firms of all sizes. According to the Goering Center, “Family and privately owned businesses have a tremendous impact on the nation’s total economic climate. In fact, they account for more than half the total employment, new job creation and Gross Domestic Product.”
The following list of ten best practices for successful family and private businesses was compiled by the Goering Center. According to the Center’s research, companies that have the greatest chance of continuous growth and sustainability:
- Articulate a clear family business philosophy, results in a family charter that outlines policies concerning employment, ownership, compensation, management, conflict resolution, and personal and corporate responsibility.
- Develop, regularly update, and communicate a business strategic plan, with continuous measurement of the plan results.
- Develop and execute an employee performance management system including accurate, up-to-date job descriptions, agreed upon goals, and timely, truthful feedback and evaluations.
- Implement leadership development plans for key positions and possible successors.
- Establish either a Board of Advisors or a Board of Directors including non-family members.
- Create contingency and estate plans that address the organization’s response in the event of disability, death or voluntary resignation of owners and key officers.
- Create retirement plans of owners that address the organizations response in the event of disability, death or voluntary resignation or owners and key officers.
- Experience continuous financial success over time in terms of sales and profit growth.
- Create an active and functioning family council that serves the purpose of community, company and family issues.
- Embrace and encourage company and individual community service.
While we were named runners-up in our category, we are not a management team that rests on the laurels of our success. I anticipate a review of these Best Practices being added to our next management team’s strategic meeting agenda.
About Affordable Language Services
The mission of Affordable Language Services is to enhance the health and well-being of the global community through world-class translation and interpreting.