Current & Custom ABFI Programs

The seminars, programs and workshops offered by the Alberta Business Family Institute can help you build a successful future for your organization and the members of your family.

The seminars, panel discussions, programs, and workshops offered by the Alberta Business Family Institute can help you build a successful future for your organization and the members of your family.

Current Programs

Family Enterprise Leadership Series


Check out our Family Enterprise Leadership Series. All online workshops brought to you by Canadian Western Bank.

Focus on Families Masterclass


This series of webinars will be geared to family businesses from all disciplines who seek to deepen their understanding and begin the process of transition planning.

Family Enterprise Advisor Designation Program


The FEA Program & Designation will expand your expertise and help you bring family-focused and thoughtful solutions to your family enterprise clients.

Partner Event


ABFI in partnership with Results Business Consultants presents Ethical AI: Implications for Private & Family-Owned Businesses, a panel discussion with experts in the field and networking event.

Partner Resources


The Business Families Foundation has offered a selection of online content free to family enterprises and their advisors and we are happy to share those resources with our ABFI membership.

Custom Programs

Coaching and Mentoring

Empowerment through Coaching and Mentoring

Despite the fact that the terms coaching and mentoring are often used interchangeably, they are different processes. Executive coaching attempts to develop professional skills through instruction, while business mentoring facilitates learning and leadership development through guidance and advice.

Though they differ in definition, both coaching and mentoring create an environment for growth. In a family business, effective coaching and mentoring can play an essential role in shaping motivated, confident successors and ultimately assist in the perpetuation of a successful family enterprise.

Employee Mentor Programs - Develop Top Talent

Leadership development is a process; one that can be facilitated through measured risk taking, overcoming obstacles?even by making mistakes. Strong employee mentor programs for junior executives are proven to enhance skills, knowledge and a sincere commitment to a family business.

Read more about coaching and mentoring under these other Custom Programs:

  • Small Business Mentoring
  • Mentoring Techniques
  • Mentoring Staff

Large Corporation or Small Business Mentoring - Big Impact

Whether yours is a large corporation or a small business, mentoring and coaching can offer powerful rewards. We would be happy to discuss all the ways the Alberta Business Family Institute can provide assistance in this area.

Explore our seminars and programs for mentors and advisors, contact us with your questions or learn how a membership can positively impact your future.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution Techniques for Family Business

Working in a family business is both rewarding and challenging. Unlike a non-family workplace, however, dealings with colleagues may be subtly influenced by lifelong relationship patterns which necessitate special conflict resolution techniques.

As Peter and Susan Glaser of the University of Connecticut's Family Business Program explain, every message communicates on two levels the informational level and the unconscious relationship level. Falling into destructive old patterns of seeing family a certain way, called "selective perception," risks the health of your organization. It is possible to avoid these problems, however, through training in family workplace conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution Tips to Help Your Multi-Generational Enterprise

Faced with compelling differences or a complex dispute, some business families resort to conflict resolution in formal negotiation known as mediation. This process often enlists a trusted third party. The advantage of mediation is that it is a consensus-based method and less expensive than strategies such as litigation.

There are conflict resolution techniques that may pre-empt the necessity for such drastic steps however. Conflict resolution tips include describing feelings, focusing on the specifics, acknowledging responsibility, collaboration and follow-up.

Proactive Workplace Conflict Resolution with a Family Focus

Good communication, consensus-building and strong leadership are important tools for business. The Alberta Business Family Institute can teach you family-focused, proactive conflict resolution techniques and activities, whether you are an owner, a family employee, or a trusted advisor.

Learn more about our Family Leadership training series below, along with useful articles, workshops, videos and advice on conflict resolution and effective communication for professionals working within a family enterprise.

Corporate Governance

What does Corporate Governance mean for Your Family Business?

Though corporate governance is applicable to all businesses, the responsibility for creating and enforcing fundamental guiding principles depends on the size and type of company.

In a larger organization, corporate governance may be assigned to a large board of directors and/or senior management. Responsibility for governance in a family business, or in small, privately held companies may be shared by a select group of executives.

What is Corporate Governance?

Simply defined, corporate governance is the system of procedures or rules that guides the operation of a company. Principles of ethics and concepts of accountability, fairness and transparency make up this policy framework.

Through established best practices, management and shareholders fulfill necessary corporate objectives in a responsible manner.

Corporate Governance is a system of checks and balances guiding the operation of a company, for the good of all stakeholders. Basic goals of good governance in family business include effective procedures guided by principles of ethics, accountability and transparency.

Corporate Governance Styles - Which Suits Your Family Enterprise?

Concepts and principles of corporate governance are influenced by different theories and factors. In a family business, corporate governance styles should encompass two points of focus "business and family" and work towards finding consensus between any competing objectives. Regardless of varying parameters, good communication is essential for effective corporate governance.

The Alberta Business Family Institute understands the unique needs of family business. We advise family-run enterprises on a variety of issues, including corporate governance, providing essential tools, consulting services, education programs and resources such as books and workshops. Contact us today for more information.

Cousin Consortium

What is a Cousin Consortium?

A cousin consortium is, in essence, a stage within a family business. Through succession, an entrepreneur/controlling owner passes down the enterprise to his or her children (sibling partnership), who in turn, hand the reins to the third generation. In this stage, it is typically several cousins who are responsible for the management and operations of the business and/or hold company shares.

Successful well-known cousin consortiums that have prospered through at least three generations include Cargill, Lego and Michelin.

Issues Unique to a Cousin Consortium

A few of the unique issues that accompany the process of succession in a family business are:

  • Transfer of power/ownership through generations
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Influence within the family

Other cousin consortium challenges include:

  • Inequitable balance of authority
  • Difficulty in managing disputes
  • Ineffective governance structures - outside support from board of directors is often a necessity

Effective succession planning is vital to the health of this type of organization. Since interest in the business is typically earned through inheritance, shares may become diluted through generations. Furthermore, individuals may possess varying degrees of skill, motivation, work ethic, commitment to the company, etc.

Find Resources and Support for Your Cousin Consortium at ABFI

The Alberta Business Family Institute recognizes the unique dynamics of relationships within a cousin consortium. We provide a number of seminars and programs that can enrich your experience as an owner, manager or employee within this complex structure.

Explore this website to learn more about the tools, resources and advice waiting for you at ABFI. Contact us today with specific questions related to your family business.

Divorce Mediation

How can Divorce Mediation Preserve my Family-Owned Business?

Only a couple of generations ago, split families were quite uncommon. Today, experts estimate that up to six out of ten marriages break up. Divorce is always tough on a family, but within the context of a family business, it can be much more complicated. Unfortunately, many business-owning families don?t take prior steps to prevent the dissolution of a marriage from jeopardizing the family enterprise.

Dispute resolution processes, including negotiation, arbitration and divorce mediation, can offer a reasoned, problem-solving approach to continuing or dividing interests in your family-owned business. These strategies can lead to a peaceful settlement of issues and preservation of the family asset.

Divorce Mediation Training - Educate Yourself about the Process

Mediation is a good alternative to litigation in the resolution of conflicts that arise from divorce. In order to understand the philosophy and stages of mediation, as well as the functions of a mediator, divorce mediation training can provide a basic understanding of mediation techniques and tactics. It is also highly advisable to bring in an independent third party to divorce mediation proceedings where a family business is involved.

Divorce Financial Planning - Protect Your Family and Your Business

Studies have shown that divorce impacts the short term financial performance of family-owned businesses, so it is prudent to "divorce-proof" your business now. Pre-nuptial agreements, trusts and buy-sell agreements are all divorce financial planning tools used by forward-thinking family business advisors.

To learn more about divorce-related business transition and how divorce mediation can help preserve your family enterprise, please contact us at the Alberta Business Family Institute. Our Relationship Contracts course may also be of interest to you.

Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Your Family Business

Unfortunately, only one third of family-owned businesses survive the transition to the second generation. In turn, the chances that your grandchildren will take over your business are about 1 in 10, according to chartered accountants BDO Dunwoody. This statistic is true of both urban-based and rural organizations.

One major cause of unsuccessful business transitions is the absence of formal estate planning. Though this is sometimes due to succession issues, many business owners simply do not want to think about the day when they will no longer be running the business. In addition, the business succession process must invariably deal with the business owner's death.

Obtain Peace of Mind with Financial and Estate Planning

Have you addressed any of the common fears associated with retirement from a family business, such as anxiety over loss of relationships with people at work, or fear of having nothing to do? How much money do you need to secure the rest of your life?

Another important question to consider is whether you will require income from the family business. It is important to take into account how factors such as inflation, drawing down assets, getting sick, or even living too long can erode your retirement funds and affect the financial future of your family-owned enterprise.

Access Estate Planning Retirement Advice and Resources at ABFI

The first step in developing or renewing your estate plan is to assess your current situation. The Alberta Business Family Institute offers estate planning retirement advice, as well as helpful resources that can help you to plan a peaceful and secure retirement.

Attend our seminars and programs, access professional advice and review articles on financial management and estate planning for families with business enterprises. Learn more about our valuable services or contact us for more information.

Facilitation Skills

Maximize Results with Strong Facilitation Skills

Group dynamics can produce powerful results! But it takes an accomplished leader to negotiate the process?someone who can create excitement for the task, stimulate creativity, involve all participants, build consensus, elicit teamwork and resolve conflict.

Family business members often turn to trusted advisors for their management / facilitation skills. Whether in a time of crisis or for proactive planning, this confidante can lead participants through constructive exercises and discussions to successful results.

ABFI can Help You Master Your Management Facilitation Skills

In order to affect change, a mediator must possess the following traits: adaptability, self-confidence, approachability, patience, persistence, leadership, respectability and intuition, among others.

Are you a trusted advisor who has been called upon in a facilitative role? If you possess the aforementioned characteristics, but would like assistance in refining your group facilitation skills, the Alberta Business Family Institute can help.

Learn Valuable Group Facilitation Skills and Techniques from Experts

In addition to expanding your knowledge on a wide range of topics relevant to business families, ABFI can provide training that will enhance your group facilitation skills.

Learn more about our Family Enterprise Advisor Designation and our other programs and services, where you can increase your value to your business family clients. Want a few tips to get you started? Read about Facilitation Techniques below.

Facilitation Techniques

Group Facilitation Techniques - A Few Ideas to Get You Started

In today's fast-paced economy, it is often difficult to set aside time for workshops, management retreats and strategic planning sessions. In a family-owned business, however, effective communication and a focused exchange of ideas are vital to maintaining healthy relationships and smooth operations.

Planning, collaboration and consensus-building in a family enterprise are best achieved through group discussions. A strong leader with proven group facilitation techniques can maximize team performance and inspire goal-oriented results.

Workshop Facilitation vs. Group Facilitation

If your role is to be a group facilitator who guides discussions and outcomes, refrain from offering your own opinions; remain in the role of arbitrator. If, however, the intent is to have you provide expertise and education, as in workshop facilitation in your area of expertise, by all means, educate and inform; then allow participants to apply that knowledge in their discussions.

Group Facilitation Techniques and Advice to Add to Your Repertoire

Are you looking for new group facilitation techniques and examples to supplement your current skills and knowledge?

Do you employ any of these creative discussion techniques?

  • Buzz groups: small groups discuss topic then one reports a summary
  • Brainstorming, round table: write down responses, then discuss ideas in turn
  • Debates, fish bowl discussions: small group discusses topic, other group listens without providing input, then second group responds

No one wants to ask a question or respond to one of your questions? Stimulate a discussion by having everyone quickly write down their thoughts and pass it to another person. Continue a few more rounds of passing, then have a few participants read another participant's question.

The Alberta Business Family Institute can provide many more group facilitation techniques and strategies. Contact us today to find out how we can be of assistance!

Family Business Succession Plans

Family Business Succession Plans - The Missing Link?

Family business succession plans are critical to organizational growth and longevity. Yet the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports that only 10% of family-owned business executives have developed a formal written plan. An additional 38% have given some thought to the process, but have not formalized their intentions. That leaves 52% without a formalized succession management strategy. Many business owners have not even begun discussions of transition management with stakeholders.

These statistics give rise for concern, since it is estimated that over one trillion dollars in business assets will change hands over the next decade.

Succession Management - ABFI is Here to help

Unfortunately, there is no magic template for succession management. The development of a family business succession plan is a process that requires an investment in time and energy. That investment can pay dividends, however, for you and your family.

Not sure where to start? The Alberta Business Family Institute is here to help with resources, training, strategies, mentoring, information on best practices and more.

Business Succession Planning - Start with the Basics

You can begin your business succession planning right now, by answering questions like...Do you want to sell the company or hand it down to the next generation? Who would be a suitable successor and will he or she be ready when you are? How will ownership be transferred? When would you like to retire?

At ABFI, we are committed to helping family-owned enterprises not only survive, but thrive. Learn more about family business succession plans through programs such as RoadMap and Retirement Planning or explore further information on this page on Succession Planning, Succession Management and Management Transition Plans.

Contact us to begin planning for your future.

Family Compensation

Family Compensation - Family Values vs. Market Value

The issue of family compensation in a family business is often a controversial one. Should the system be based on "family values" where all family members are paid equally, regardless of position; or on a market value system, in which a fair wage is based on education, responsibilities and performance?

Many issues must be considered. The challenge is adopting a strategy that is deemed fair to family members and most profitable for the business.

Issues Related to the Family Business Compensation System

Feelings of entitlement, family employees, as well as parent managers, may be of the belief that family members should make more than non-family members; they are entitled through family ties.

Productivity - when salaries are not based on performance, do all family members truly perform to the best of their ability? Some argue that equal pay can remove incentives for personal achievement. The same can be said for non-family members whose work ethic and accomplishments can never be equally rewarded in relation to family members.

Some business families who employ a market-indexed system offer additional compensation periodically. This family bonus can also provide an income tax advantage or reduce estate tax liability.

In deciding upon or reviewing the family compensation system, it is prudent to enlist the assistance of a family business consultant or trusted advisor. How do you fairly evaluate and compare the skills of family members who are also employees? Or do you simply pay all members the same amount to avoid impending problems? The issue of money is a very sensitive one and an educated, objective opinion may prove invaluable in the decision-making process.

The Alberta Business Family Institute understands the complexities of family compensation and offers resources and coaching that can help you make the best choice for your family and your business. Explore other pages on this website or contact us today.

Family Facilitator Training

Effective Communication Starts with You

Family facilitator training is an important component of our Family Enterprise Advisor program. If you are a family business consultant looking to improve your communication and facilitation skills, the Alberta Business Family Institute can help.

In addition to providing effective strategies for group facilitation, mediation and dispute resolution, our workshops and education programs will further your knowledge on many issues pertinent to family business.

Learn more about a membership with ABFI or contact us today for more information on family facilitator training.

Female Successors in Family Business

Support female successors to become strong leaders and managers while growing their companies to new levels.

Everyday, women are playing an increasingly active, collaborative, visible role in business - women are not simply nurturers, but are; financiers, planners, innovators, leaders, presidents and CEO's.

Transition of the family business involves the transfer of both leadership and ownership. Most businesses tend to focus on tax and legal transition and overlook the non-technical issues such as business values and culture, conflict resolution, and healthy emotions in a business context. However, the ability to manage the "family component" in transferring the business to the next generation is critical to its success. Common family issues include "Dad/Mom won't let go" or "I don't work hard enough in their opinion".

Your leadership is critical during the transition from owner to successor because it is a time of great fragility, uncertainty, and emotional turmoil for the company and its employees. The Alberta Business Family Institute helps support female successors become strong leaders and managers while helping them to grow their companies to the next level.

In this session, you will:

  • Explore the dynamics of "Passing the Torch" using a 12 step succession process
  • Hear the stories and personal experiences of female successors
  • Learn simple tools to get you started on strategic planning to reshape the company
  • Meet like-minded women who are in family business
  • Gain access to resources to help you through the transition and to build your confidence and find your voice to have business conversations with your parent

You should attend if:

  • You are being groomed to take over the family business
  • You have recently become the CEO or President
  • You attend Family Council business meetings
  • You are passing the business to your daughter

If you have any questions about this event, please contact

Financial Planning

Financial Planning for Family Business Owners

A primary goal of financial planning for family business owners is to decide how, when and to whom to transfer wealth. In attempting to make the best possible decisions, this process involves projecting consequences in the form of a financial plan, and then comparing future corporate performance against this plan.

When it comes to financial planning and family business, two unique issues should be addressed: a change in management or ownership brought on by family changes (such as divorce) and issues surrounding succession and retirement. 

Why Financial Planning Advice is Important to Your Family Business?

Tax and business advisors can help your family business with financial planning advice and services, including:?

  • Retirement planning - prepare to embrace life after family business by achieving your goals for the family enterprise and for yourself personally.
  • Estate planning - the goal of estate planning is to ensure that your family business evolves to meet changing family circumstances once you are gone. It includes issues such as income taxes and planning replacement income for survivors.
  • Family compensation - devising an effective structure for family compensation that addresses this sensitive topic.

Financial Planning Retirement Advice - Life After Business

Obtain financial planning retirement advice from the Alberta Business Family Institute. Our advisors can help you plan the course of your life leading up to and after retirement from your family business.

ABFI resources include expert advice, seminars and programs, tools for creating an estate plan checklist, books and online information sources. Contact us today for more information on financial planning for your family enterprise.

Focus on Family: Transition Planning Fundamentals

Focus on Family: Transition Planning Fundamentals

The Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX), in partnership with the Alberta Business Family Institute (ABFI), is offering a new one-day workshop for families contemplating, beginning, or in the middle of transitioning the family enterprise to the next generation. The workshop will cover key
components that families would be wise to address and provide practical tools and resources to successfully navigate the transition process.

One of the key best practices for a successful transition is families communicating and working together. This full-day workshop is an opportunity for all family members to participate together and learn together.

A snapshot of the topics covered include:

  • How the 3 Circle Family Enterprise Model serves as a foundation to guide transition planning
  • Employing family, business, and ownership governance structures to aid decision making and communication
  • Using 'transformational' versus 'transactional' planning for transition success
  • Overcoming the challenges of relinquishing control of the family business
  • Creating commitment and engagement throughout the transition process
  • Exploring personal and family values and how they impact decision making
  • Developing a Family Constitution of guiding principles for the overall transition process
  • Creating a Code of Conduct to facilitate constructive family discussions and communications
  • Establishing and running effective family meetings to keep family members engaged and informed
  • Knowing when and how to establish a board of advisors or board of directors

Shauna Feth, ABFI Executive Director and Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA), will facilitate the highly interactive session blending group discussions,
family case studies, online video resources and skill building exercises.

Workshop Fee Includes:
• Workshop materials
• Continental breakfast
• Networking break with snacks
• Lunch


Governance in Family Business

Governance in Family Business - Success Through Effective Leadership

Family business leaders seldom think of their activities as governing the business or the family. As Craig Aronoff and John Ward, authors of Family Business Governance: Maximizing Family and Business Potential point out however, governance in family business is just as important as in any other corporate entity.

Compliance with the basic principles of family business governance smooth decision-making, shared ideas, effective conflict resolution, high standards and ethics, can minimize the risk of problems; not just within your family, but also with stakeholders, such as the board of directors or managers. These principles hold true for all family businesses, whether in a for-profit or non-profit setting.

Corporate Governance Definition

By definition, corporate governance is essentially the guiding principles that benefit all stakeholders of an organization. Governance in family business is most effective when driven by strong family and corporate ethics, accountability and transparency.

Corporate Governance - ABFI can help with the Essentials

Good governance in family business is essential. Through a series of well-communicated procedures and guidelines, family, management and shareholders can fulfill desired and necessary corporate objectives in the most responsible way. This process results in a successful company, as well as healthy family relationships.

The Alberta Business Family Institute can help you maximize the value of your family business through the development of effective corporate governance strategies. Learn more about our services, resources, workshops and education programs by exploring other pages on this website or contact us for more information.

Group Facilitation

Effective Group Facilitation can Help You Reach Your Family Business Goals

Is your family business looking to institute change, create policy, brainstorm new product ideas or develop strategic plans for the future? Whatever your goals, effective group facilitation can provide a safe, focused environment for discussion. With expert guidance, you can you achieve increased productivity, motivation and commitment.

Group Facilitation Skills = Management Skills

In order to be an effective group facilitator, an individual must call on refined communication, planning, leadership, training, problem-solving and consulting skills. Read more about each of these important groups: facilitation skills and techniques. Do you or the candidate you are considering for mediation have what it takes?

  • Strong management skills - the ability to keep the group on task and on topic. Have prompt meaningful discussions, encourage healthy debates, support and involve everyone in the process.
  • Arbitration/referee - ensure orderly conduct of all participants. Maintain a positive environment, problem solve, work within the parameters of the meeting (in terms of agenda, time, etc.).
  • The ability to remain neutral - allow participants to come to conclusions without direct influence. Ensure clear messages are spoken and understood.

Group Facilitation Techniques and Tips

An effective facilitator does not control the outcome of family discussions, but rather encourages the group to reach their own conclusions. At the Alberta Business Family Institute, our mandate mirrors the process of group facilitation. We aim to provide direction, guidance and tools that support and empower business families.

Contact us today for more information about our wide range of programs and resources.

Job Rotation

Definition of Job Rotation and How it Applies to Family Business

Job Rotation is a process whereby an employee is moved through various assignments or positions in order to gain a better understanding of all workings of an organization. In a non-family business setting, this exercise serves to enhance skill sets, increase job satisfaction and motivation while reducing boredom or complacency.

In a family-owned enterprise, job rotation is a very effective means of grooming future successors. Exposure to various departments and roles allows an individual to broaden his or her perspective and knowledge of the company.

Job Rotation can Assist in the Development of a Senior Executive

More and more family business owners are incorporating a job rotation program into their management transition plans. The focus is on the development of a successor, rather than simply the replacement of a senior executive. This type of proactive leadership development offers many benefits to the company as well as the individual. It also results in a smoother transition when the time comes to hand over the reins.

In addition to job rotation, mentoring, coaching, performance evaluations and educational opportunities, including personal and professional development, are best practices for succession management.

Explore how a job rotation program can prepare your company for future success and learn about our other valuable programs and resources by contacting us at the Alberta Business Family Institute today!

Leadership Development

Leadership Development - A Growing Trend

In March 2006, the Daily Commercial News reported that 27% of family-owned business leaders would retire within 5 years, 29% within 6-10 years and 22% in 11-15 years. With this significant turnover in management over the coming decade, it stands to reason that leadership development programs for succession candidates are in high demand.

Leadership Skill Development through Courses and Innovative Strategies

Many organizations turn to professional development workshops and management training courses for leadership skill development. Other innovative strategies that can help prepare young executives for senior positions include job rotation, special assignments in strategic planning, employee exchange, as well as coaching and mentoring.

Regardless of the activities you engage in, at the Alberta Business Family Institute we commend your commitment to your family and your business. Focused efforts in leadership development are an investment in your future. They also help to ensure that the vision and purpose of a company are maintained through the process of leadership transition from one generation to the next.

Incorporate ABFI into Your Leadership Development Program

The Alberta Business Family Institute advocates interaction in education. The practical real-life curriculum of our programs can greatly enhance your leadership development program.

Leadership Development Consulting

Looking for Leadership Development Consulting Services?

Are you a member of an Alberta family business searching for leadership development consulting services? If so, you'll be interested to learn more about the Alberta Business Family Institute. At ABFI, leadership development consulting takes the form of practical seminars and programs, coaching and mentoring and the provision of resources and support.

Leadership Skill Development Focused on Family Business

In a family business setting, leadership skill development involves much more than defining your management style; it encompasses effective communication with colleagues (who are often family members), learning to look at situations from various perspectives, becoming efficient at strategic planning, among many other challenges. Understanding the unique dynamics of family business is fundamental to this process.

Start Your Leadership Development Program at ABFI

Effective leadership skill development will not only provide a young executive with the tools necessary for personal and professional growth, it will strengthen your organization.

Learn more about our leadership development programs then contact us with your questions. ABFI wants to be a part of your team!

Leadership Development Program

Leadership Development Program for Family Business Members

At the Alberta Business Family Institute, we believe that leadership development is an evolution. The process of gaining knowledge, skills and confidence is not something that can be achieved in a one- or two-hour course; effective leadership skills evolve over a period of time. To this end, we offer programs and resources that encourage and support long-term learning and growth.

Build Confidence and Knowledge with Leadership Development Training

While we offer a framework for growth, every one of our participants is encouraged to define and develop their own leadership style. This is accomplished in a safe, nurturing environment that is sensitive to the unique dynamics of a family business. Build confidence and knowledge by participating in our leadership development training sessions:

Family Leadership Series: This leadership skill development program focuses on engaging the entire family in dialogue and a healthy exchange of ideas in a peer-learning environment. Our expert facilitators employ case study analysis in addition to the presentation of theory and research-based information.

NxGen Leadership: NxGen is leadership development training through facilitated forums on a monthly basis. Young executives become empowered by sharing experiences, challenges and triumphs with other members of the community.

Leadership Skill Development for the Leaders of Tomorrow

At the Alberta Business Family Institute, our leadership development programs are structured to create successful leaders of tomorrow. We invite you to experience the many benefits of a membership with ABFI. From leadership development to succession and financial planning assistance to conflict resolution, our services can help you strengthen not only your business, but your family ties. Contact us - we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Management Transition Plans

Management Transition Plans - What You Need to Know

It has been said that management transition plans should be built into a business plan; but who's ready to think about exit strategies before an organization is even off the ground? The concept is really not that preposterous...the more thorough the management succession plan, the smoother the transition and the happier the retirement!

Consider the Following for Your Management Succession Plan:

  • Allow at least ten years for the development of your succession plan
  • Consult a professional who can assess and advise on tax implications
  • Involve all stakeholders in preliminary discussions about your management transition plans and throughout the process
  • Ensure the necessary documentation is in place and reviewed often; this includes wills, trusts, titled assets, insurance, liquidity plans, management succession plans, ownership succession plans, etc.
  • Make decisions that benefit the business as well as your family members; some executives get caught up in the idea that everyone needs an equal share and the best interests of the business get lost
  • Be very thorough with the successor selection process and spend time in focused leadership development
  • Develop contingency plans in the event of death

Find All the Transition Management Tools You Need at ABFI

The Alberta Business Family Institute offers programs, seminars, mentoring and other transition management tools that can help you achieve your long-term goals for your business and your family. Contact us today to learn more.

Managing Shared Assets: Lessons from the Family Cabin

DVD and workbook are available for purchase. $50 + GST. Please contact us to order.

Outings on the lake. Enjoying laughs around the campfire. Marking time with cherished memories… How can a shared asset-like a family cabin-pass smoothly from one generation to the next and allow everyone to enjoy and maintain the legacy?

Mentoring Staff

Mentoring Staff in a Family Business - How Can You be Most Effective?

As a senior executive in a family business, have you been assigned or perhaps taken on the task of mentoring staff? If these junior executives are your children, it may be a challenge to provide guidance and coaching as a mentor rather than as a parent. How can you separate these roles in the workplace and assist in the personal and professional growth of your employees/children?

Guidelines for Employee Mentor Programs?

If you are developing or revamping your employee mentor programs, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:?

  • Outline the long-range goals and expectations for your employee mentor program, along with a monitoring and evaluation process
  • Develop formal personal development plans for daughters, sons and other family members who have been identified as possible successors
  • In strategic planning sessions, ensure that corporate decisions are in line with family values
  • Consider peer mentoring as a component of your employee mentor program; identify other employees and supervisors who possess the necessary maturity and skillsets
  • Seek training, resources and support from the Alberta Business Family Institute

Large Corporation to Small Business Mentoring - ABFI can Help

Mentoring staff in family-owned business can present unique challenges. Arm yourself with knowledge and confidence by participating in ABFI seminars and programs. Learn from our mentors, access research, articles and other resources and further develop your own leadership and small business mentoring skills. Contact us today to find out where to start!

Mentoring Techniques

Enhance Your Value with Effective Business Mentoring Techniques

Are you searching for mentoring techniques to enhance your value to a family business client? David Megginson and David Clutterbuck, authors of Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring, open their book with the question, What do you need in order to become a good coach or mentor: a life; a position; a qualification; a way of going on; techniques? Ironically, they answer, "We think that the least important of these resources for a coach or mentor is techniques."

Placing the emphasis on all factors in combination, they go on to discuss more than a dozen training- and education-based mentoring techniques. The essence of the activities/strategies necessary for effective mentoring includes:

  • Relationship building - effectively defining and understanding the parameters of the relationship (including the inevitable end of the mentor relationship)
  • Outlining goals - what you hope to accomplish in mentoring sessions
  • Effective communication - the ability to bring clarity to situations
  • Skill and strength assessment and awareness
  • Helping your protege look at situations from other perspectives
  • Tools and strategies for overcoming obstacles
  • Encouraging creativity and networking
  • Fostering decision-making skills, among others

Family Business Mentoring Programs from ABFI

Family business mentoring programs based on a positive relationship of collaborative sharing and learning can result in tremendous personal and professional growth. Within the complex institution of a family enterprise, it can even mean the difference between succession/continuation of the business and corporate failure.

Learn effective mentoring techniques with information, training and resources available at the Alberta Business Family Institute. Explore the opportunities that await you - contact us with your questions.

Negotiation Skills

Effective Family Business Negotiation Skills

Above all else, family business is the business of relationships. This holds true whether you are negotiating within your family business or with outside companies. The differences in negotiations with family partners (which involve long-standing relationships, pressure to conform and confusion over roles?am I a mom or am I the boss?) can increase the potential for misunderstanding and conflict in your family. Learning effective negotiating skills will go a long way towards minimizing risks.

Enhance Your Negotiations Skill Set - Tips to Help you Deal with Others

Harvard Business School?s John A. Davis and Deepak Malhotra offer several principles and examples to build your negotiations skill set:

  • Analyze the negotiation space - the negotiation space isn't a physical room; it's a reference to all the parties either affected by, or that can affect the negotiation. Analyze the interests, power and constraints on each and understand what they want. Don't forget to make your own needs known! Statistics show people in close relationships often negotiate worse outcomes than do people who care less about their counterparts.
  • Don't try to beat the other side - winning a negotiation doesn't mean the other party needs to lose.
  • Avoid single-issue negotiations - people often get stuck on one issue, like salary. Instead, use your negotiation skills to identify and negotiate multiple issues simultaneously and spot value-creating trade-offs.
  • Negotiate over interests, not positions - get past what each party demands and learn why they want it. Take a non-judgmental attitude about other's choices.

Negotiations Skill Examples, Techniques and Tips from ABFI

Improve your deal-making, communication and conflict resolution skills! The Alberta Business Family Institute offers books, articles, programs, coaching and resources that can help in the development of effective negotiation skills.

Learn more by visiting other pages on this website or contact us for more information

Non-Profit Governance

Non-Profit Governance and Responsibilities of Non-Profit Boards

In 2003, the Center for Effective Philanthropy conducted a survey of CEOs from top US foundations to gather information about non-profit governance practices.

In their shared findings, financial accountability, appropriate committee structures, conflict of interest guidelines, ethics and fiduciary responsibility were recognized as important policy concepts. As important to healthy non-profit governance was involving foundation trustees in activities related to the essential work of the foundation. In other words, the days of purely ceremonial board positions should be a thing of the past.

Corporate Governance Definition - Is Non-Profit Governance Different?

While corporate boards are accountable to shareholders, non-profit boards are accountable to donors; foundations may only be accountable to the board itself, depending on the foundation's governing rules.

Though the principles of a corporate governance definition also hold true for non-profit governance, media scrutiny of non-profits in recent years have prompted increased transparency in order to guard against abuse, perceived or real. Audit committees, requiring board review on income tax filings, and appointing compliance officers have become best practices to reduce the risk of such issues.

Policy Governance - Some Basic Principles

Although there is no single model for non-profit governance, some guiding principles include:

  • Crafting a clear mission statement expressing your non-profit's core values and purpose
  • Establishing standards to ensure the organization is well managed, including a Code of Ethics, as well as management structures defining relationships between board and staff
  • Formulating a fundraising strategy to raise the resources necessary to fulfill your mission

If your family business supports a non-profit foundation, contact us for more information about non-profit governance. We also invite you to learn more about the wide range of programs and services offered to family business members.

NxGen Leadership

Invest in Your Future with NxGen Leadership

Invest in the future of your family business by preparing and training your young executives. NxGen Leadership is a personal and professional development program that recognizes the unique parameters of entrepreneurial families.

Unlike formal theory courses or business workshops, leadership training with NxGen is achieved through monthly sessions of networking, mentoring, sharing strategies and celebrating achievements.

A Leadership Development Program Tailored to Business Families

The facilitated forums of the NxGen Leadership development program offer group opportunities to explore corporate governance, conflict resolution, succession/transition management and many other topics unique to the family business.

NxGen is a Leadership Training Program like no other:

  • Develop leadership skills
  • Build relationships with a trusted peer group
  • Share successes and disappointments
  • Receive candid feedback and mentorship
  • Celebrate the opportunities and challenges of a family business

Effective leadership training will help empower your leaders of tomorrow.

For more information about leadership development, please contact us.

Passing the Torch: 12 Steps of Succession Planning

Succession planning is a natural process in a successful business and one that can (and should) be positive and empowering. Our main focus is to provide resources to family businesses so they can begin the succession planning process. The materials and templates provided will help business owners manage growth and plan for transitions, which will ensure the success for future generations to come. Succession planning is a way for business owners to continue their legacy, set a foundation and provide a livelihood for their successors.

The workshops include the tools to address one or more of the twelve steps identified in the full day program developed for the Alberta Business Family Institute by Gary Coskey, one of the first ABFI Executive Professors. The new full day 12 Steps of Succession Planning program is offered in many communities across the province. Attendees receive a workbook in addition to a DVD of tools to assist in the stages of the 12 steps. Topics in the program include, but are not limited to:

Getting Started
  • Determine the owner/manager commitment
  • Consult and advise key stakeholders
  • Set up governance structures
Gathering Information
  • Assemble and analyse key documents
  • Evaluate financial needs
Developing a Succession Plan
  • Determine the vision for the business
  • Determine the successor selection process
  • Design an estate plan
Implementing the Succession Plan
  • Educate, mentor, and communicate
  • Restructure ownership
  • Set up a contingency succession plan
Reviewing the Succession Plan
  • Formal review and re-evaluation process

To Register: email: or call 1-780-492-0234

If you would like more information on this program, please contact us.

The Road to Retirement: Financial and Legacy Planning

Retirement Planning - Have You Defined Your Goals?

How does your family business fit into your retirement planning goals? Understanding the technical aspects of succession planning is the first step in the progression of leaving your family business with peace of mind.

When viewed as a natural process, this transition can be a powerful conduit for your family business and the financial well-being of your estate. A good estate plan takes into account income taxes and shifting investment allocation. It should also establish peace of mind, while minimizing the potential for family disputes.

The Benefits of Retirement Planning Advice

Obtaining financial retirement planning advice now will allow you to begin the process of moving away from the day-to-day management of the family enterprise. Solid advice from qualified consultants familiar with Canadian estate planning laws will also facilitate the development of a checklist of asset protection strategies.

Women whose husbands run the family business and who may predecease them can benefit from financial advice about subjects such as replacement income. Other areas to consider when developing an estate plan include taxation, living trusts and joint property.

A Financial Planning Retirement Legacy for your Family Business

Retirement planning doesn't have to be stressful or difficult. You can obtain tools for financial planning, retirement and legacy planning from the Alberta Business Family Institute. Our group of experts can help you design an estate plan for your family business through advising or participating in our seminars and programs.

It's never too early to begin developing a retirement strategy that will allow you to move on from your family business, assured of its continued success. Contact us today.

Relationship Contracts

Relationship Contracts - To Preserve and to Protect

Relationships within a family business are very complex. Siblings, husbands, wives and other family members must learn to not only coordinate management styles, but to separate personal issues from day-to-day business operations. Strong leadership, clearly defined roles, good communication and conflict resolution techniques all help to facilitate healthy relationships at work and at home; but it?s not always enough.

Formal relationship contracts can ensure the preservation and protection of both careers and the company when relationships fail.

Prenuptial/Cohabitation Agreements, Marriage Contracts - The Bright Side

Papering the Relationship is a practical course offered by the Alberta Business Family Institute. Through participation, you will explore the positive benefits of, and the need for, prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and marriage contracts.

The agreement need not be about relinquishing assets; it can simply protect the most important asset, your family business.

For more information about relationship contracts within a family business setting, please contact us.

Shared Governance

Corporate Governance Definition - As it Applies to Family Business

Any basic corporate governance definition, whether in a family business or any corporate environment, involves a series of best practices to assist the board of directors and management in their guidance of the company.

Shared governance in a family context starts with sound leadership and good communication. Compliance with guidelines focused on accountability, transparency and high standards of ethics will ensure that your family business continues to thrive.

Shared Governance - How to Manage Competing Interests

According to Craig Aronoff and John Ward, authors of Family Business Governance: Maximizing Family and Business Potential, shared governance, whether in a profit or non-profit setting, means effectively balancing the interests of the family and the overall goals of the business.

For this reason, the policy behind corporate governance in a family enterprise should be based on building consensus between all stakeholders - owners, family and management.

Corporate Governance - Helpful Advice and Resources

Good corporate governance in a family enterprise is essential. Cohesive decision-making, effective conflict resolution and formal mechanisms that allow for growth and succession will assist in reducing the risk of potential pitfalls along the way.

The Alberta Business Family Institute can help you understand and utilize the concepts behind effective shared governance strategies for your own family enterprise. Register for one of our workshops or education programs or take advantage of our advisory services. Membership in the Alberta Business Family Institute gives you access to invaluable resources. Contact us today for more information.

Sibling Rivalry

Gaining Control of Sibling Rivalry in the Family Business

Within a family-owned business, siblings who learn to manage personal issues can become very close, turning the relationship into a business asset. Statistics show, however, that when sibling relationships transgress into sibling rivalry, often after a parent dies or retires, this dissention can be dangerous for the health of the organization as a whole.

How can siblings in a family business learn to manage their relationships and not turn into a sibling rivalry statistic? By defusing the two most common, yet critical, issues: succession and compensation.

Although more family companies are considering collective governance (with the younger generation preferring a more egalitarian business culture), others still believe in the hierarchical structure. The question is how do you determine who will be in charge after a parent is gone? Research shows that the best method is to take a proactive planned approach to issues of money and power.

Sibling Rivalry Advice for Multi-Generational Family Business Partners

While sibling rivalry definitions often mention Cain and Abel, Nancy Upton, author of The Family Business Survival Kit, says sibling rivalry need not end in bloodshed. Smart planning around money and transition management neutralizes destructive family patterns.

Upton suggests that activities such as annual business retreats, family business meetings with a formal agenda, rotating leadership, succession management planning and formalized operating policies can effectively disarm rivalries.

Sibling Rivalry Articles, Books and Advice for Your Family Enterprise

Learn how siblings in your family enterprise can channel natural competitiveness into unified goals for your company. Research sibling rivalry articles and books at the Alberta Business Family Institute. Our advisors, programs and resources can help resolve sibling rivalry before it becomes a problem.

Small Business Mentoring

Small Business Mentoring can Help Your Company Survive and Thrive

Are you a small business entrepreneur looking for support and guidance to help your family-owned organization prosper and grow? You are wise to seek mentorship. In addition to having a sounding board to assist in current decision-making, small business mentoring can help you build a strong foundation for future growth.

Coaching and Mentoring Facilitates Leadership Development

In a family-owned small business where a son or daughter is a potential successor, small business mentoring can prove invaluable in leadership development.

Consider a workplace in which a young executive must someday step out from the shadow of a powerful founder who is also their parent. An objective trusted advisor can facilitate personal and professional growth outside of the parent-child relationship. Inspiring competence and confidence, coaching and mentoring can be an important component of management transition plans.

ABFI Provides Valuable Resources for Small Business Entrepreneurs

Small business mentoring encompasses listening, motivating and planning skills that can help your business thrive. The Alberta Business Family Institute offers coaching and mentoring for small business entrepreneurs, as well as a wide range of seminars, programs and resources. Our mentors are experts in the fields of financial planning, corporate governance, mediation, conflict resolution, among others.

We also support trusted advisors with training and networking opportunities. Explore our website to learn more then contact us to discuss your needs.

Succession Management

Why is Succession Management Often Left to Chance?

While many family business owners may agree that succession management is important, few actually take the steps to develop and implement a formal plan. Why? Research suggests the following:

  • Many felt it was "too early" to begin planning
  • Transition plans are complex and take a great deal of dedicated time and effort; it is often difficult to find or make the time
  • Succession management can be associated with uncomfortable topics, such as death or simply growing old, and making difficult emotional decisions
  • Avoidance of conflict - senior members may struggle with how to be "fair and equitable" to junior family members
  • Indecision about the future
  • Don't know where to start

Unfortunately, it seems that the absence of management succession planning is often the ultimate cause of family business failure.

Management Succession Planning - Start with the Basics

Succession management may be an arduous task, but it is one that should not be overlooked. Breaking the process down to organizational components may help. The four departments that are the backbone of the business must be accounted for: administration and finance, operations, sales and marketing. Starting with this blueprint, it may be easier to decide on direction and leadership.

At the Alberta Business Family Institute, we understand the intricacies and the challenges associated with management succession planning. We also have the tools, resources, programs and mentors that can help guide you through the process.

Consider a membership with ABFI. It may just be the best investment you make for your family and your business.

For more information contact us or learn more about these other Custom Programs:

  • The Road to Retirement: Financial and Legacy Planning
  • Succession Planning
  • Business Family Succession Plans
  • Management Transition Plans
Succession Planning

Succession Planning - Success through Generations

While succession planning is integral to any organization with long-term leadership, it is critical to the sustainability of a family enterprise. Factors specific to family business emotions, tax implications, the overlap of ownership and management all serve to compound the devastation of unexpectedly losing a key executive.

Business or management succession planning, with the assistance of ABFI, will provide effective strategies, tools and a defined process to ensure that your family is taken care of and your business continues to thrive.

Quick Tips for Business/Management Succession Planning

One of the first tips we can offer in relation to management succession planning is to start early. The more time you have to prepare all parties impacted, the smoother the transition. Here are several other suggestions:

  • Open a dialogue - start talking about succession planning and how important it is to the future of your family enterprise
  • Treat management and ownership as separate entities and allocate according to what's best for the business, rather than what is perceived fair and equitable among family members and employees
  • Dedicate focused resources and time to the selection, training and development of a corporate successor
  • Seek advice from experts and trusted advisors

Business Succession Planning

Ensure the long-term success of your family-owned business with effective, strategic business succession planning. For more insight into this important process, contact us or learn more with these other Custom Programs:

  • Family Business Succession Plans
  • Succession Management
  • Management Transition Plans


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