How important is it for your parent/boss to provide feedback?

Business Leader Post, August 14, 2013

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

I don’t care how old you are—you are always looking for parental approval. Even those of us who have lost parents will still bring them back into our minds when significant things happen in our lives. Parents are especially missed when good things happen to us or for us.

It is the same thing for the next generation of family members in the family businesses.  Approval is very important and is a wonderful motivator. Consequently, it is important for the senior generation to take time out of their day, or even better, structure some time to give feedback to their sons and/or daughters.  Also, it is much easier for them to hear the areas that they need to work on if you give them compliments on the things that they do well. You can’t do too much of this kind of communication.

My suggestion to the members of the next generation is that you do the right things and do things the right way to please yourself.  As an adult, you have to motivate yourself and appreciate the intrinsic reward of doing things well. Being solely motivated by looking for your parents’ approval does not work. I was working with a client today who devised a plan for implementing a project that was flawed. We figured out another way, and then he realized that his original idea was attached to a wish for his father’s approval. I said to him “Forget it. That is who your father is.”  I also told him that every time the father talks to me, he tells me how great his son is doing. So simple to say, so difficult to say it directly.