KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s the one thing that’s a constant in life and in family-owned meat and poultry businesses. Change can be a source of conflict and drama that can damage relationships and cripple companies. For multi-generational companies, it is often challenging for the early leaders of the company to embrace the changes needed to grow the business.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the meat and poultry industry, according to Aileen Miziolek, consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group, based in Chicago. She says it isn’t uncommon for many company founders to work hard to establish routines to create process and product consistency. For many of them, a couple of new ideas every 10 years or so is enough. “Change is something we’ve all had to learn to deal with,” says Miziolek, and when it comes to leaders of food companies, “they need to continuously reinvent themselves.”
Miziolek is addressing the complex topic of coping with the challenges that come with changes in family-owned companies during a free educational session at the 2020 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). Sponsored by the North American Meat Institute, the two-hour Family Business Workshop, titled “Leapers, Bridge Builders or Tradition Holders-Which One are You? will be held Jan. 29, from 8-10 a.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center. Miziolek gave MEAT+POULTRY a preview of her presentation, saying she plans to stress the importance of identifying differing response styles among company stakeholders and family members and how that is part of creating a culture of growth and success in the future. “We’ll talk about change being the new norm and how a family’s tradition can be change; making change the tradition.”
As the workshop title implies, the style of change responses include leapers (those who are accepting and happy to change); bridge builders (slower to accept and leap and tend to research and consider change); and tradition holders (value tradition and how things have always been and tend to resist change).
Through a series of interactive and engaging exercises, Miziolek says attendees will also attend the workshop with a goal of understanding that each family member in a family business is somewhere on the spectrum of the three types of change responses, which is a good thing. “They all have a role to play in change management. So, instead of seeing it as a conflict, I want to help business-owning families understand that each one of those response types has a place and they should be leveraged,” she says. “They need to come together to understand how each of them contributes to a better outcome.”
Other topics planned for discussion include factors that influence change in family businesses such as: risk tolerance; the role of technology; and demand shifts among customers. Miziolek also plans for unscripted dialogue among attendees and for open exchanges of ideas during the workshop. “My hope is they walk away with a model of change that is useful in understanding responses all around them, so we’ll be able to start seeing change in different ways.”