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Book reviews: Trust works; Driving Loyalty; Managing conflict

Read CampdenFB’s reviews of the latest books aiming to help you navigate the modern business world.
CampdenFB’s reviews of the latest business books

Trust works! Four keys to building lasting relationships
Ken Blanchard, Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence
Harper Collins; 160

If you can see past the annoying exclamation mark in the title, this tome by an American business guru should be a handy reminder to family businesses about a basic truth that is easily forgotten: trust is the bedrock of business.

True, this message is communicated through a fable about a cat, a dog and a parrot, but the idea that a little bit of trust often dispels discord probably encapsulates what all those books about family business rivalries say in far more pages.

Driving loyalty: Turning every customer and employee into a raving fan for your brand
Kirk Kazanjian
Random House; 272

The motto of this book is “take care of your customers and employees first and the profits will follow”, immortal words uttered by the boss of the Enterprise car-rental business.

It’s the thought-provoking case studies of CostCo, Starbucks and others that are most interesting, which all suggest that the most important thing in business is people: gain their loyalty and you get repeat business and more motivated staff. How? Things like sustainability appeal to people and create profit in the long run.

Managing conflict in the family business: Understanding at the intersection of family and business
Kent Rhodes and David Lansky
Palgrave Macmillan; 120

“The intersection of family dynamics with business dynamics provides for potentially volatile and destructive conflicts,” warns this book, before insisting that if managed properly, certain dilemmas can “help a family grow its business, enhance relationships and secure a higher commitment to the family business”.

The authors, consultants with the Family Business Consulting Group, have some wise words. For example, family business conflicts are often the result of long-term processes, not one-off events. And there is an “intimacy paradox” – family members are good at interacting in ways that avoid conflict, which can mean they avoid issues that need addressing. “Don’t go there,” can be useful in family life, but destructive in business.

This is balanced with practical tips, such as nine ways to “avoid avoiding conflict”, so it doesn’t fester and to collaborate (agreeing to disagree) rather than compromise (wereby everybody is giving up something they value).

The bad news? Managing conflict is a tricky, long-term business. The good news? It can be done.

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